If you’re like me, sometimes you wonder if the people showing up at your door on Halloween should really be trick-or-treating. Should they get Halloween candy or not? My parents had a rule that you stopped when you were 13 unless you were accompanying younger siblings. They also understood the love of candy so we had a candy tax at our house and the older kids got 10% of the younger siblings Halloween candy. It worked out for everyone.
So tonight if you are wondering how to handle the ghosts and ghouls at your door, simply refer to our little flow chart. It’ll make all of your Halloween Candy decisions. After all, if we can help you with personal hygiene, we can also help with holiday dilemmas.
Well hellllooooo there! With Halloween just two days away, I know most of you probably already have your costumes planned out, for you, your significant other, and/or your children. Buuut, just in case you don’t, I’m going to share an idea with you.
Mostly, I just wanted to show off our costume from this year. But then, when I couldn’t think of a post title to put that humbly, I decided I liked the idea of sharing how I kept both costumes under $40.
So, if you couldn’t guess from the picture above, this year, Kent and I were Woody and Jessie from Toy Story. Or as everyone at the church Halloween party said, “Woody and…. the girl cowboy… what’s her name?” Jessie. For the record, I was Jessie. ; ) Unfortunately, we came in second in the costume contest to the man dressed as Mr. Monopoly. But, really, it was fair. I would’ve sworn on the snake in Kent’s boot that the Mr. Monopoly legitimately scooted himself off the board game and into the cultural hall for the party. The costume was thaaat good. Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200. Don’t ever try to win a Halloween costume with this guy around.
As I was saying, Kent and I were Woody and Jessie, and our costumes were completely homemade. And they were completely homemade on a budget. Because, we have bills, people. I gathered up everything we had first. Jeans, belt, and 2 white t-shirts. Then, I went on a mission to find everything else. I started at Goodwill. (Because there’s no DI in Colorado.) First, I searched for cowboy boots for Kent (I already had some for me), but they were $50. Even at Goodwill. Uhm, really? No. So, I had Kent ask around and he found a coworker who was kind enough to let him borrow a pair. Whew!
While at Goodwill, I found a cowgirl set in their Halloween section. Hat, belt and buckle, and lasso rope for $5. After Goodwill, I went to Walmart. There, I bought some white sweats for $6 and some fabric paint/markers for $12. Next, I went to Target and found a yellow men’s shirt on clearance for $4. My next stop was a Halloween store where everything was 50% off. Yep. So, I bought another cowboy hat, a bandana, and a Sheriff’s badge. It was $7 total.
My last stop was the dollar store, where I found a little toy gun for Woody to carry. $1.
Total = $35 (not including taxes)
When I got home, I cut the sweats into some chaps , then used my black fabric paint to put cow spots on them. I took the 2 white shirts and colored one with the markers to look like Jessie’s shirt, and cut the other one into a vest and used the paint to put cow spots on that too. Allow to dry for 6-8 hours.
So, you have two costumes, one afternoon of bargain shopping, and one evening of painting/coloring. Half a day, $40, and a second-place Halloween costume for two ; )
How have we not talked about muffins yet?! (Also, am I the only person who giggles immaturely when I hear the word muffin? Just sayin.) I love muffins. However, there are a couple of rules that must be followed when making muffins.
Tracey’s 5 Rules of Muffin Making
1. Muffins are essentially cupcakes for breakfast. In order to get away with this, you need to make sure there is at least one redeeming ingredient in said cupcakes muffins. This can include: fiber, fruits, berries, nuts or vegetables. This recipe includes pumpkin (fruit) and oats (fiber). Check and check.
2. Due to it’s cupcake-like nature, it must contain something tasty and preferably sweet. Fruit or berries can fulfill this requirement or you can just throw caution to the wind and toss in some chocolate chips as I did with this recipe.
3. Struesel is highly-recommended. If there is any sort of berry involved, it is almost universally required. Crunchy, sweet topping? Yes, please.
4. A muffin must be larger than your average cupcake. Again, if this think is going to be my breakfast (as it has been for the last four days) it better keep me full for a couple of hours.
5. Muffins should be served warm. I’m not saying make a fresh batch everyday (although I don’t know why you couldn’t . . . ) I’m just saying throw that little treasure in the microwave for 45 seconds to let it reach it’s full potential. Also, warm muffins make your house smell good. There is nothing more inviting for a house guest than the smell of warm baked goods.
In my quest for the perfect pumpkin muffin I came across this great little recipe. However, I have rules so a couple of changes were required. First up, it calls for raisins. I am not a huge fan. The movie “Benny & Joon” perfectly described this in a way my 14 year old mind could appreciate.
“They used to be fat and juicy and now they’re twisted. They had their lives stolen. Well, they taste sweet, but really they’re just humiliated grapes. I can’t say I am a big supporter of the raisin council.”
So, I added substituted chocolate chips.
Next, I went heavy on the oats. It’s breakfast people. Get your fiber. Also, since I love me some streusel, I tripled the amount required and increased the flour. Finally, I don’t mess around with average sized muffins. I used my large muffin tin and got exactly 12 beautiful muffins out of the batch.
So here you go my friends, the perfect Pumpkin Muffin. Keep this little gem in your back pocket for any time you need to feed people over the holidays. Halloween party? Pumpkin Muffins. Thanksgiving breakfast? Pumpkin Muffins. Black Friday? Christmas Morning? New Years Day? Holiday Brunch with the church ladies? PUMPKIN MUFFINS!
I have skinny legs! I don’t say this to try to brag or get attention — I actually hate being the center of attention. It gives me anxiety. So, yeah. Most times I’m OK with my legs. I’ve come to terms with the fact that that’s just the way it is for me. It means less surface area when I have to shave, and what could be bad about that? Other times I really, really take issue with the whole thing. For example, when I have to listen to someone saying, “Your legs are toothpicks!” C’mon. How am I supposed to respond to that? “Uhm… thanks?” Also, when I’m trying to find a good pair of jeans. A lot of times, jeans just are baggy in my calf area. Finding jeans that fit just-right has been a lifelong struggle for me. Darn my toothpick legs. AND also, when I’m trying to find a good pair of boots.
I love boots. And from reading the responses on some of our recent fall posts, most people love boots the most about fall! Most times when I try to wear boots, my ankles or my calves just slosh around inside, like putting a single rose inside large vase. Or like a straw in a 32 oz cup without a lid to hold it in place. It’s not cute, I tell you.
But! I have solutions. And I want to share them with my fellow skinny-legged friends out there who also struggle with the dilemma of loving boots.
Uggs — Here’s the thing. I know a lot of people who have very strong feelings about Uggs. And a lot of those feelings aren’t great. I get it… they’re not the most beautiful of boots. But they are comfortable and warm and very practical in snowy weather, I have found. Which I guess is kind of the point of boots, isn’t it? So, since I love my Uggs and because they are as practical and comfortable and warm as a man should be, I am going to include them on my list. When I first started shopping around for a pair of boots like Uggs, I was looking in places like Target and Costco. Because, budget. I didn’t want to spend the ridiculous amount that Uggs cost on a pair of boots that aren’t all that cute anyway and that was more than likely going to get ruined in the snow.
But what I found was, as a skinny-calved shopper, that the Target and Costco brands really aren’t made as well. And by that, I mean, the fur lining isn’t as thick and the boots are much wider as actual Uggs. That is a no-go for a skinny-calver like me. So, I splurged and got me some real-life Uggs and I have been so happy!
So, solution #1 = splurge on the brand name.
Now, I understand sometimes you may not want or may not be able to splurge on the brand name, and that is just fine! Brand names, shmrand names, is what I say. Why pay more for what you can get just as good of for less, right? And for that, I have a solution also. Socks! Get you a pair of knee-highs and roll them down around the opening of the boot. It adds thickness around your calf and it hides the fact that maybe your skinny calves look a bit ridiculous right now.
Solution #2 = Socks! Of the thick and knee-high variety.
Ankle boots/booties — Super trendy right now. And I love the way they look! I bought myself a pair of ankle boots last season (when I found them on super sale at Forever 21, shhh with my secrets!) and it was really love at first sight. But when I got home and tried them on, the opening was just too big for my ankles and I couldn’t make them look good. The best way I have found to make my ankles look not so ridiculous in the wide opening is to avoid skinny jeans when I wear them, and wear something like boyfriend jeans instead. And cuff the jeans so the bottom of your jeans just barely hits the top of the shoe. It sort of works to hide the fact that your ankles are hangin’ out all willy nilly somewhere inside those jeans and wide boots.
Solution #3 = Boyfriend/baggier jeans, cuffed.
Side note, I may or may not still feel a little bit ridiculous in these when I wear them, but I get compliments on them every time. So definitely, invest in some ankle boots. Odds are people will love your trendy boots so much they won’t even notice your tiny ankles.
Knee-high boots — Ah, my first love. I remember the first pair of boots I had. They were knee-highs. They were tie-up and had some fur on ’em. They were totally 2005, but I loved them! Thankfully, knee-high boot fashion has come a long way since then.
There are tons of styles of knee-high boots to choose from, but I have riding-style boots, so that’s what I’m focusing on here. Shopping for knee-highs can be pretty intimidating if you have skinny calves, but don’t give up! I found these amazing knee-high boots that have a slit in the back, so it’s like the boot is saying, “Look at me, I am made to look wider at the top which gives you an excuse to wear them with your skinny calves!”
Solution #4 = Get boots that give a good excuse to have skinny legs, like a slit in the back. If all else fails, see Solution #2 and just add knee-high socks.
Rain boots — I think rain boots might be the worst boot for us skinny-calved folk. For years, I was afraid of buying and/or wearing a pair of rain boots because of how ridiculous I thought I looked in them. Then, I found a pair of slim-fit Hunters. And my life has never been the same. They literally hug my calves! They are perfect. They’re so good I can’t even think of anything else to say about them.
Solution #5 = Find boots that have “slim” in the name. Solution #1 also applies here (I had to get brand name Hunter Wellies to get the exact fit I wanted).
I forgot to take a picture of them for the post, so you get just a random picture of me wearing them.
Combat boots — I have several ways of wearing combat boots. 1) Laced only halfway up, with socks. 2) Laced halfway up, with cuffed jeans. 3) Laced all the way up, with cuffed jeans. 4) Laced all the way up, with jeans tucked in. 5) (Not pictured) Laced all the way up, with socks.
The beauty of the combat boots is that you can wear them sooo many ways and no one will ever be able to tell you have the skinny calf. It’s brilliant. I have combats in black and brown because I love them so much.
So, solution #6 is just = Combat Boots! Mixed with all the other solutions already written 🙂
Whatdaya know?! Today we have our very first guest post. In fact, we have a couple lined up but we thought we’d start with one of our favorite people around the blog, Hey Megan. Megan, as she is known to those who actually have the privilege of knowing her, is the mother of four (two of which are twins), wife of one, runner extraordinaire and hands down one of my favorite people in Austin. She’s also super smart. Aaaaand funny. Best of all, she tells it like it is. Megan’s been asking us to post about schools going green for months, but since I’ve been moving (and I’m lazy) I asked her to do it us. Enjoy!
(Also, she’s probably just noticing I stuck this darling photo of her on the blog. Isn’t she cute!?)
Before I start my rant on schools going green, I need to say I am seriously missing my Hey Megan buddy. I am thinking of jumping on the next flight to NC, except I think I’ll wait for Tracey to get some good eats under her belt there first. But since I am no longer actively engaged in pursuing all the best food in Austin with Tracey, I am going to write up a little post for her. This is something that I’ve been trying to decipher for a few years….
So, my oldest kids are 9. They started going to school when they were 3. And they’re twins. Twins means you get two of everything—two cribs, two car seats, and two of EVERY single school note, paper, school coupon, everything. I mean two of the exact SAME everything. That adds up to a lot of paper fast. So, I had a system, I would rifle through the papers from one folder and then throw away all of the papers in the other (minus the projects…well maybe a few of the “art work” got thrown away by accident. I got a lot of “blue scribble on white paper” back in the preschool days).
So, for a few years that was our routine. I got two folders home from school every day with IDENTICAL paper in it and I’d throw half of it away. Then, my twins hit first grade and a note came home saying the “school is going green!” I was really excited. And not just because saving the environment is good. I was excited because I no longer had the two folder conundrum. I remember discussing this with other moms—moms of singletons were only slightly impressed. Moms of twins—they felt like I did.
It was great. No more folders filled with double notices or homework papers. No more throwing half of everything away. I could just respond to everything on email. Homework through email, fill out forms online, great! Right? Wrong. I slowly came to realize that a “school’s going green” means I get to print everything out. That’s right. I am now printing out all of the homework and forms. I am still handwriting these forms and sending them back to the school in my kids backpack. That doesn’t sound like going green to me. That sounds like “you use your money and your paper and your ink so we don’t have”.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem helping the schools out. But just call it like it is. Don’t get me excited about finally being able to do everything electronically and then say “nope, we’re going to let you cover the cost of paper and ink this year.” Hmm…
But there is a bright star in all of this. Six years later I finally got a teacher that calls it like it is. My son’s math teacher. Love her. She did not say she was going green. She said “Hey guess what? The district said they won’t pay for any more paper so can you guys print out the homework? Thanks.” Love the honesty. If someone had said that from the beginning I wouldn’t have need to rant. Now if they could only figure out how to do homework electronically I wouldn’t have to fight my kids over messy handwriting…
As you might know, a little less than a month ago, the hubs got a job offer in Raleigh. In case, you didn’t know, we are already in Raleigh and settled into our new home. That is less than a month to find a place to live, pack, clean and move half way across the country. There is no way we could have done it without my fantastic in-laws. They watched my kids, packed my house, cleaned my house, drove with us and helped me unpack. One of the most stressful parts of the entire move was knowing that my sweet mother-in-law was going to be CLEANING MY HOUSE! This, my friends, is a terrifying prospect. I knew that there was no way that I would be able to have it cleaned before she arrived so I instigated what I like to call the “Please Don’t Judge Me Clean” pre-clean. It was a this point that the “Cleaning Advisory Scale” was born.
Here’s the deal. I’m not dirty, I’m just the victim of two children and far too much stuff. Some details just get pushed aside. I’m not so great a washing floorboards, wiping down my fridge or capturing the dust bunnies behind my washer and dryer on a regular basis. I am, however, pretty good at tossing all of the clutter in to my bedroom and making the house presentable within less than 10 minutes. See “Bestie Clean”.
I have a feeling I’m not the only one with this talent so I took the time to put the “Cleaning Advisory Scale” in writing. Are you trying to figure out just how clean your house needs to be based upon circumstances? Hopefully this scale will help you decide how much to clean, or NOT to clean.
On this day, exactly 27 years ago, my life was changed forever. And I wasn’t even born yet. On this day 27 years ago is when my husband made his grand entrance into the world. On this day 27 years ago, the world got a little bit sassier. A little bit funnier. A little bit cuter. A little bit better. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the face of my future children.
That face! Does that face just not make your ovaries ache? (Unless you’re, in fact, not a female… in which case, you have no ovaries.) On this day 27 years ago, the infant that became this adorable face, that became the accident-prone teenager, that became the sassy young adult, that became the best choice I’ve ever made, was born. Maybe for the sole purpose of becoming my husband.. I don’t know. But my husband he did become.
And, how cliche is it that he really is the best choice I’ve ever made? All the stupid, ignorant, heart-breaking choices I had made up until the day his name became my name were totally, 100% worth it. How great of husbands to do this for us, right? How amazing is it of them to make our miserable, self-wallowing, awkward teen years worth every second? I know I speak for wives of incredible husbands everywhere when I say, thank you, husband, and I love, love, love you.
And so, this is my ode to husbands. (And by “ode” I mean “declaration of gratitude and love.”)
To the best choice I ever made. Thanks for being that for me. Thanks for making it so that I don’t doubt “us” for a single second when I am with you.
To the friend who doesn’t leave my side for anything. Thanks for being with me. I’m not quite sure what I did to deserve having my best friend by my side, always.
To the comedian who makes me laugh when I’m sad. Or when I’m already happy. You make me happier. You make me the happiest. You get me.
To the cuddle buddy who, well, cuddles. Thanks for the snuggles. And the kisses. That’s pretty much that.
To the ear that listens when I just need to talk. Thanks for listening. Or for pretending to listen, as the case may sometimes be. Sometimes I’m just chatty, I love ya anyway.
To the confidant to whom I can tell my secrets. Thanks for the trust. I like knowing I have somewhere to vault my secrets, my desires, my doubts, my fears, my joys.
To the sass-mcfrass who sometimes makes fun of things I do or say. Thanks for keeping me humble. For keeping me on my toes. I know it’s all in jest — usually. Never a dull moment with you.
To the dynamo who works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. Thank you for your hard work and your motivation and your dedication; it is literally the sustaining force behind our small little family of two.
To the accident-prone teenager of your past. I know you think you just had a “bad year” on your dirt bike. But, anyway, thanks for being alive. And don’t you dare have a “bad year” again. I don’t do blood.
To the brother who brought me into his family for good. Thanks for having the most wonderful family. I love being able to call your parents my parents, and your siblings my siblings. I love them as I love my own family. I am the luckiest ever.
To the alpha-male in you. Thanks for changing my oil, checking my breaks, getting me new tires. Thanks for grilling dinner. Thanks for hanging shelves. Thanks for fixing the toilet and the faucet and the water heater. Thanks for doing man-stuff. You keep doin’ your thang, because I sure can’t.
To my other half. Thanks for being human. You’re not perfect. And I am most definitely not perfect. We’re human, we make mistakes. Your mistakes remind me that it’s OK to struggle on occasion. We learn and we grow, but we do it together. And, anyway, the struggles remind me that the good times we have are the absolute best.
Because you really, truly are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My best choice ever. I pat me on the back. Good job, self.
Happy Birthday! And thanks for being in my life, husband.
Wanna be the nice neighbor who gives out Halloween treat platters to those mediocre people who live next door? But, let me guess, you probably don’t have bunches of extra time just lying about in which to participate in such activities. Right? So, what you do is you put together these super quick and easy treats, pile ’em on a cutesy Halloween plate, secure it all in some plastic wrap and tie a pretty bow on it. Easy, quick, delicious, and just enough to show Mr. and Mrs. Mediocre a couple houses down that you’re actually a step above the mediocre neighbor that they think you are. And who knows… maybe one day you all might be friends. Just maybe one day you guys will all play Yahtzee together. Here’s to hoping!
The first Halloween treat is one my mom has been making for as long as I can remember. And I am probably this treat’s biggest fan. The best part is you can customize for any holiday, depending on the candy you put on top. M&Ms are available pretty much any holiday — Easter, Christmas, Halloween. And the other best part is that these taste good no matter what time of year you make them. So for our purposes today, we’re gonna Halloween-ize them.
You start with vanilla almond bark and melt according to the instructions on the package. Then, take the peanut butter Ritz Bits sandwiches and dip them in the melted almond bark. I suggest using a fork because the melted bark will probably be too hot to touch. And also, whomever you give these to will probably appreciate your fingers not fondling all over their treats.
Lift the treats out of the bark (using said fork) and place onto parchment or wax paper to cool. Immediately add M&M treat of choice (we used the white chocolate candy corn flavor for festive reasons). And you can get crazy and add other treats you like also. I happen to be in this ongoing love affair with candy corn that I can’t seem to quit. So, yep.
The next Halloween treat is a tale as old as time (an aside — did you know Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie?). You make peanut butter cookies as normal. Homemade is always preferable, but if you’re lazy like I am, just use a package. Plus, the words “super easy” are in the title of this post, so for the sake of that, I’m a big proponent for the package. Then, instead of adding chocolate kisses when they come out of the oven, just add the pumpkin spice flavored ones (Hershey’s, of course). Bam. Classic treat, Halloween style.
The third and final Halloween treat involves lollipops. And who doesn’t love lollis?! Ghost lollis. I’m sure you’ve seen these before, but my mom has been making these for as long as I can remember, just like the Ritz Bits treats. So I’m including them here because mom trumps everything, always. And did you see what I said up there? GHOST. Ghost lollis! Trust me, you can’t possibly get more Halloween-festive than this. And it’s probably the easiest of all my treats today. Here’s what you need:
A box/bag/collection of lollipops. I prefer to use the Tootsie Pops because, how many licks? You know? And because it’s what my mom used. Old habits die hard and things like that. A box of tissue. A spool (? — what is the correct terminology here anywho?) of ribbon. I used black this time, to keep in the spirit of the season. A sharpie.
Take one lolli. Take one tissue. Wrap tissue around lolli. Tie tissue onto lolli using ribbon. Draw eyes onto tissue. Voila! A ghost!
Now take all your treats and arrange on a cute Halloween paper plate. Pull some Saran wrap up around all the goodies so as that they will stay in place. Tie Saran wrap closed with some of the leftover ribbon from your lolli project and there you have it. Easy, delicious, Halloween treats that will make your neighbors love you.
Now go find those Joneses or Smiths and start spreading that Halloween cheer! And please remember to let us know how your Yahtzee game goes!
Thank you to everyone who entered the Fall Favorites Giveaway this week! I have been excited all week to see who would win it. Maybe even more excited than those who actually entered. So without further ado, because who wants to read some blah blah blah about a giveaway on a Saturday morning. You just wanna know who won, am I right? The winner of the Fall Favorites Giveaway is….
Thanks to Erika, the blog is rolling on as my family and I are rolling out of the state of Texas. In what has been a quick (and miraculous) couple of weeks we have gone from being potentially unemployed to finding a fantastic job and home in Raleigh. The downside? We have to leave my beloved Austin.
Emotions are mixed. Children are confused and I am EXHAUSTED. We managed to pull off this move in less than three weeks. This translates into me sneaking out of Austin like a thief in the night. So in the early morning hour, as my family snores around me in my Shreveport Hotel I thought I’d take a minute to write Texas (and Texans) a love letter.
I knew from the second that I ordered a Diet Dr Pepper at McDonalds that you and I were going to be good friends. It didn’t hurt that when I walked into church the first Sunday you sent an old work friend to ease the social transition. And then you brought my aunt to Texas at the same time?! Nicely done.
You must have known about my love affair of food because you certainly pulled out all of the stops on Austin. BBQ, Tex Mex and food trucks? Oh, my! We literally ate our way through this town and enjoyed every single calorie. My only regret is that I didn’t get to take Hey Megan to all of our faves. I promise to share a list soon!
Since we did more than just eat while we were here, thanks for all of the fun things you offer as entertainment. We loved our trips to Port Aransas (Port A to the cool kids) Dallas, Houston, San Antonio. The sweet little towns of Fredericksburg and Marble Falls were darling. Ben even managed to hit a bunch of little BBQ towns like Lockhart. Completely worth the gas. . . used to fuel my car. (I have to clarify for my super mature siblings.)
Also, can we talk about your weather? Other than a couple of months in the summer, you can’t beat it. I even kinda like the humidity. The summer is almost bearable as long as you take advantage of fantastic pools, splash pad and the occasional “Girl’s Night Out” wake-boarding on the lake. (Who knew we had such mad wake-boarding skills or in my case wake board boat driving skills?) Then there is SPRING! The only thing I love more than Texas in February is Texas in March. Hello?! Bluebonnets!
And speaking of March, thanks for the fantastic medical care that brought us our own little Texas bluebonnet. She is as delightful as the sweet friends she shares we middle name with.
Oh, the friends. A couple of days ago Hey Megan was saying that when you move to a new place it takes about a year to really make friends and another year before those friends feel like family. Well, you certainly upheld your end of the moving bargain because you gave us great friends, many of whom I would happily claim as family. While there are too many to mention, (and most would be super embarrassed) I have to say, it is the people of Texas that I love the most. I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to most so I just kinda mentioned it on social media and did my best to avoid tears. That is until Sarah’s stinking mom started tearing up! And letting people at church know we were leaving a week early?! Foregetaboutit. Words cannot describe the love and warmth that I have felt in Austin. Even random people in HEB (Oh, wonderful grocery store, I’m going to miss you too!) are warm and friendly. Ben says that I should have been a Texan my whole life.
Then there is the love you have shown my children. I firmly believe that we moved to Austin for my kids. Sam was embraced by wonderful teachers, therapists and a fantastic school. Each of them changed our lives for the better. As I walked him out of school yesterday I had teachers I didn’t even know telling me how much they were going to miss our little guy.
Well, guess what Texas? We are going to miss you too. We love you wish you nothing but the best and can’t wait for the opportunity to return to you loving arms. Even if it is just for a visit. You will always hold a place in our heart comparable to your square mileage.*
Love you more than breakfast tacos, Tracey
*Seriously?! I never thought we would see the state line. Nothing takes longer than driving out of the state of Texas. This may not be a bad thing.