Tis the season for class parties, little league snack duty and office trick-or-treaters.

When we were kids, didn’t the grown-ups throw some candy in a cartoonish tin and call it a day? Or, if they were really feeling fancy, they made ghosts out of lollipops. Do y’all remember these? A tootsie pop, draped in a tissue, tied with a ribbon right at the bottom of the sucker, finished with black magic marker eyes and maybe a round little mouth? Pre-Pinterest gold.

I don’t think that I’m supposed to admit this out loud, but I love the Pinterestification of the holidays–this crafty revolution that makes an ordinary girl think she has scissor super powers. Until she tries to bring a pin into real life. That’s when the original idea and my attempt at it usually ends up looking like reverse before-and-after photos.

Anybody with me? Well, there are a few things I’ve tried that almost resembled the picture I started with. If you’re DIY-challenged like me, these autumnal yummies are fun, festive and nearly foolproof. You only need 3 things to make each of them and none of them require any baking or cooking. Woot!

Owl Cupcakes: my favorite. You can bake the cuppies yourself or buy store-baked (YES!) and top them off with Oreo cookies and Reese’s Pieces. The kids can make their own funny faces. (We also made a batch of snowy owls).


Pumpkin Favors. These guys are fun to hand out. You just need tulle, pipe cleaners and candy. They do take more candy then you might think, so I’d go big on the filler. Like jelly beans. It was hard (for me, at least) to achieve a perfectly not-round-but-round shape, but they’re pretty forgiving. There’s something charming about lumpy punkins, right?


FrankenFaces. There are a million different ways to make these puddin cups and you just need a marker, Oreos and pudding (homemade, instant, store-bought–whatever you fancy). You pick the height of the cup, the color of the dye–or lack of dye–and the kids can have fun sketching Sharpie expressions.


And Monster Donuts! These are awesome for the ball field. You may have to open up the center with a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, depending on the size of the fangs you find.

Monster Donuts

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 10.38.06 PM
Disney Digression

Do you have a favorite easy peasy fall treat? I want to know.

Table Topic Tuesday. 8/20.

It’s Table Topic Tuesday, peeps.

Survey says:


I always like to find a secondhand, love-worn book. I especially geek out over a hardback with a slippery, crinkly dust jacket. My favorites are marked with double or triple inscriptions. Like this one.


A dear professor gave this beautiful old book to us as a wedding present. It was first gifted in 1979. I’d love to know where this story lived between ’79 and ’03. So, books that are old enough to smell? Check.

I’d also like to find a typewriter. A pink one, maybe? And I don’t want a shelf-sitter. I’d like one that actually works–one with cheerful-clicking keys and a “ding” that sings.

But the best yard sale would have old, limited edition Disney pins. Of course.

Disney Digression
Disney Digression

(I’m in the market for an Esmeralda pin if anyone has a hot tip.)

I asked my friends to play, too.

Lindsay is a girl after my own heart:

Yard sales are one of my favorite weekend adventures. But I don’t go looking for them. They’re much more special when I happen to run into one while strolling the neighborhood. The best thing I’ve ever found at a yard sale — my ten year old self will tell you — was a stuffed dog, colored purple and pink pastels. I thought I’d hit the stuffed animal jackpot. I’m not sure what happened to that dog over the years, but I hope he’s making {yes HE — never mind his feminine coloring} another little girl just as happy. Now that I’ve grown out of my stuffed animal collecting days, I get really excited when I find signed books at yard sales. First editions signed by the pen-masters themselves. Against a book full of Times New Roman, I love seeing what their signature really looks like. All caps? Swirly or straight Js and Ys? Cursive? Totally illegible? How does this author’s grocery list look on the weekends? Is this how he signs a check? I like to know these things. I think handwriting tells a lot about a person. 

Lynda weighed in, too.

I’ve been an HGTV and DIY watcher for at least the past decade, if not longer. I love to see the before’s and after’s of various home renovations or room redecorations. I could spend hours watching these seemingly – although more likely misleadingly – easy transformations. New living room in 30 minutes? Sure. Brand new home purchase in under 10? Of course. I think it’s because I love the idea that perhaps I could be this DIY’er myself, and maybe I have some hidden talent like faux finishing or decoupage. It’s this secret daydream that one day will come to fruition…or at least I like to think so. What does this have to do with yard sale finds you ask? Well, I suppose if I accompanied my grandmother on one of her yard sale adventures, I’m sure I’d be scoping out some diamond in the rough something-or-other that I could turn into something amazing…something I could proudly display. I’d have house parties or get togethers and guests would comment on it and gush over how beautiful or exquisite it is. I would give a little chuckle and regale them with every detail – from the fact I paid less than $5 for it to how I transformed this little gem that otherwise would’ve gone in the trash into something everyone would love to showcase in their own home. But alas, it’s all mine. Go find your own. So while I may not have anything specific in mind, that truly is what I would love to find at a yard sale – a possibility. I guess I should start looking…


Okay. You’re up. What’s your favorite yard-sale find?

What perfect looks like

I made it as a mom more than 6.5 years before I finally gave in to hosting a birthday party. Oh, we’ve had plenty of celebrations and cake and unbirthdays (read: plenty of celebratory cake).

But I’d never done the official pick-a-theme-invite-all-your-friends-stress-me-the-heck-out kind of party.

I finally decided this was our year and for our littlest guy’s (that’s Case) 4th birthday party, he landed on dinosaurs. So, I did the sensible thing and spent a late night (or five) binge pinning clever, adorably easy-looking DIY dino party ideas. Roar.


Then, eyeball-deep in dino decisions, my namby-pamby right brain had a melt down. It’s the reason I hadn’t planned a party yet. I don’t plan. I don’t list. I don’t allot. Schedule. Formulate. Organize. Nope.

This is going to be hard, I thought.

This is going to be the best party ever, my then-3-year-old Case squealed, with innocent, absolute faith in me.

Determined to do it myself on the cheap, I reserved a pavilion in our neighborhood park and forced myself to make lists. I asked Case what he wanted. A dinosaur piñata and dinosaur cupcakes. Check.

I added a few things that I wanted: a themed invite to, you know, set the mood, themed activities, a suite of themed, designed signs, platters & such. Balloons for every kid, which I read was a must.


I checked off a few lists and hoped for a dry, sunny day. The forecast tortured me for a week, calling for a 60% chance of afternoon storms during our afternoon, outdoor party.

The day finally came—a dry, shiny, blustery day.

That darn wind. Not the sweet, gentle spring-type breeze.  No, no. It was a don’t-wear-a-dress (guess who wore a dress??) kind of wind.

The wind was totally PMSing.

I swear, my sister and I re-set the tables 3 times. We couldn’t even tape down the kraft paper. Hats and buckets were flying. My oh, so clever signs defied duck tape. The balloons that I had envisioned whimsically hovering beneath the pavilion roof were more tangled than Tiana and Naveen’s froggy tongues (Disney digression).

Tiana/Prince Naveen tongue tangle

Then the unthinkable happened. Guests started arriving before I was done. Before the table was set. Before my Pinterest-perfect party was ready to be beheld.

The party was windswept before it even started. I sent the punctual guests to play on the playground while I tried to squall-proof the set up by just setting out the basics.


Dino buckets

Sweet Eaters 2

Plant Eaters

Meat Eaters

Soon, all the kids, giddy with the promise of digging up treasure, were bounding back to the pavilion. So, we launched Operation Temporary Tattoo with a super sophisticated system—paper towels and water. Each kiddo was branded with a prehistoric critter.

Now, official paleontologists, they claimed their tools by writing their names on their bucket tags. Then, it was off to the Dinosaur Egg Hunt. I found these awesome eggs with a fun texture and a great prize inside. We were scheduled to be in full force egg hunt fun for at least a half hour. These super sleuthy kids found all the eggs in a matter of minutes—like, less than 5—and stashed them in their buckets.

name tags

Tucker's tag

The Egg Hunt

The next item on the ‘ol trusty schedule was activity #2, so we gathered at The Dig Site. This activity was the kids’ favorite and I wish I’d gone with deeper tins. They were content for a solid half hour (yay, schedule!) to comb through the sand with tiny paintbrushes, committed to finding each buried treasure. We’d hidden these dino skeletons and shiny confetti in the play sand and they kept every piece they found in their buckets.

Dig Site


Digging 2

Right before my birthday boy’s coveted piñata pull, the wind threw a tantrum and knocked over a glass bottle that was filled with edible dino eggs (jelly beans). So, we went on an impromptu Jurassic jaunt around the park while the dads made sure each shard of glass was tossed.


PSA: Glass bottles and mason jars? Cute and festive and presh, no doubt. Outdoors on a windy day? No ma’am.

Finally, the piñata pull commenced and Case’s life, to that moment, was complete.

After they collected all the candy in their buckets, we passed out the dinosaur cupcakes and sang happy birthday.


His candle was sweetly snuggled in a sea of jelly beans in a mason jar. I was going to pluck it out for the song, but I didn’t want to tempt the wind or attempt to light a match. So, he didn’t blow out a candle. And that’s okay. I’m hopeful that his wish had already come true.

Because, after that, the real party started. My activities only took us through an hour and a half of the two-hour time frame. But his friends all wanted to stay and play. So they ran around and roared at each other and watched balloons wander through the sky and collapsed in a sweaty kid heap. They had ridiculously amazing unscheduled fun. Imagine that.


balloons 1


I had imagined this perfect party for my littlest one’s birthday. All Case wanted was to have candy and cupcakes with his friends. For him, perfection was as simple as giggles and sweets. That’s it. And I never want to forget what that kind of perfect looks like.

 my heart

 (Special thanks to my pal Francisco–the super skilled dino sign designer. To my amazing sister who worked MacGyver-like miracles with duck tape. And huge hugs to Martha who captured so many sweet memories that day.)