August 31, 2009

Going to my Halloween Happy Place...

I'm fantasizing about all my happy activities because the next three weeks are going to be the toughest weeks at work. Lots of running between campuses, attending night classes to provide orientations (including the weekends) and trying to keep everyone happy with our recent software upgrade.

Going to my happy place involves curling up on the couch with my husband for a good English mystery, crafting with my girls, sometimes cooking, and getting ready for our family Halloween party.

It’s killing me to wait until October to post Halloween ideas so bear with me my blogging friends. A couple of you have suggested I write a book on Halloween decorating and this blog is a great place to get all those ideas organized in one place. Who knows maybe someday, you’ll see a book on Kim K’s Halloween Craftiness!

For a few of my followers who aren’t familiar with my Halloween obsession, here’s a little background information….Halloween has become our family’s all-time favorite holiday.

Prior to meeting my husband, Christmas would have ranked right up there as number ONE. Chris’s obsession (which includes years of plotting elaborate Halloween displays at his house and in his dorm room which was at a Catholic college) clearly changed my holiday preferences. We can proudly say that we own more Halloween decorations than Christmas decorations.

Maybe proud isn’t the right word. Oh well.

We start thinking about what we want to be for Halloween months in advance and it’s not uncommon for Chris to wear multiple costumes…one costume for our party…a different costume at his elementary school party.

So why do we love Halloween so much? Because it's fun!!

Halloween is a FUN holiday that our family loves to celebrate.

Chris and I have held Halloween parties every year since 1992. Each year, they become a little bit more elaborate and the decorations and special effects tend to get a bit more extensive.

Last year’s Halloween party was our first family-friendly party and it was hugely successful with over 126 attendees. The face painter, carnival games and popcorn machine were so much fun and added a festive “non-threatening” mood to the evening.

Because we are passionate about our relationship with international special needs adoptions, we are making this year's party a fundraiser for Pearl River Outreach. Families can donate whatever they chose (if they chose) and the money raised will be used to provide specialized medical training and foster care to Chinese orphans. We've been involved with this organization for almost a year and we are excited about this venture. Every day, when I look at Josie, I’m reminded at how blessed we are to have fantastic medical interventions at our disposal.

Our family doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches or dancing skeletons. We don't believe that any of the characters associated with Halloween mean anything to us, other than that they have great entertainment value.

Over the next few weeks, mixed in with my regular family updates, I’ll be posting Halloween crafts, recipes and decorating ideas.

I hope enjoyed this little trip down memory lane and Happy Halloween…a bit early!

August 30, 2009

Living for the three-day weekend!

I'm already dreaming about the approaching Labor Day weekend. This fun-filled yet productive past few days, simply wasn't long enough. And yes, I spent part of the weekend creating new Halloween decorations (pictures and instructions to be posted later).

And as a follow-up to Verna's advice on how to find out which hand is the dominate hand (use a toilet paper roll or rolled up paper as a telescope. Have your child put it up to their eye. Whichever eye they use is probably the dominant side) Josie consistently put the paper roll to her left eye. That being said, she painted with her right hand and cut her play-doh with her left hand. I can't wait to see how this turns out.

Have a great week! I can't wait to fight traffic and parking spots at GVSU.

August 28, 2009

Martha gets it...

It's been a long week of work responsibilities, which have also included evening obligations and it's not going to let up anytime soon. It's the same old story every August/September. I always get wiped out with start up at my university. HOWEVER, when I saw this come across my email, I immediately became happy!!

You can bet I'll be stalking my favorite retailers for the new Martha Stewart Living Halloween issue. With the pressure of having even more party attendees at this year's gathering (we're hoping to make this a benefit for Chinese orphans sponsored through Pearl River Outreach) Chris and I are starting to prepare even earlier with decorations and treats. Mark your calendars for October 30th!!

I've got all my supplies ready for a few Halloween crafts.

While Josie is napping Saturday afternoon (and in between laundry cycles and work email) I'm hoping to persuade Emma to craft with me.

Love ya, Martha!! Have a great weekend, everyone!

August 26, 2009

Lefty or Righty?

I'm feeling nostalgic this week about Josie's special needs and how far she's come since her surgeries. I'm blaming Kimberely for it (congratulations on a great heart appt for Sophia) and Karin (I just love your generosity and all the adventures of your special kiddos).

We're seeing a switch again between which hand Josie is using. After her corrective surgery on her right hand back in December, she stopped using her right hand for most fine motor skills. Forced to be in a cast for nearly five weeks, we weren't surprised.

I was fairly certain that we now had a lefty in the house. Not so. She's now back to being fairly ambidextrous. The mystery of the dominate hand continues.

Her surgery scar has really faded. Without looking back at her hand pictures, I tend to forget that she even had a special extra thumb.

I'm so glad to have all our major medical issues behind us. Years down the road, she'll need a valve replacement but it's nothing that we are obsessing over at the moment.

When I think back to everything we went through our first year home with Josie (MAJOR open heart surgery and then hand surgery) I'm surprised she's as well adjusted as she is. We love you, sweetie and you are an amazing little miracle!!

August 25, 2009

Bubble Wrap, a Candle and some Apples

I thought this blog title might catch your attention. And no this isn't a craft idea. I'll make connections with all three things. I promise.

Also, I don't want any of my followers to think I'm a super woman. I'm not. Several of you have left comments saying I'm a super woman. I love the compliments, but keep in mind, I've had a Mr. Mom (love ya Chris) who has been on a K-12 summer schedule. Having him home to help with laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning, makes my life pretty wonderful when I come home from work each day. I also have a tendency to not sit down much. I'm always doing something. Call it nervous energy. I think my husband might call it other things. Either way, I'm not a super woman. Just a working mom, who loves to play with her girls and throw crafts their way a weekly basis for selfish reasons.

Now, onto bubble wrap, a candle and some apples.

My sweet friend Shanna (who equally loves Halloween as much as I do and who is ALSO throwing a Halloween party to benefit Chinese orphans) sent me this spectacular candle in the mail today.

Tucked around the candle, were a couple of sheets of bubble wrap that Josie immediately started stomping on to create the sounds of fireworks. Both girls soon got into the bubble sheet action. I swear this stuff is the BEST invention EVER.

Thanks, Shanna. I love the owl on the candle lid and the smell (moonlight harvest) is absolutely fantastic. Of course, I'm using it right away. I'm sure my witchy ladies will approve too.

Here's the apple reference. Last weekend, I modified an apple recipe and it actually turned out better than I expected.

Keep in mind, my modifications tend to happen when I don't have the exact ingredients on hand or I'm short on time (not necessarily to make them lower in calories). Here's my recipe for apple-stuffed french toast.

* 4 large tart Apples, peeled, and sliced
* 1 tsp. Cinnamon
* Sugar to taste
* ¾ cup Brown Sugar
* 3 tbsp. Maple Syrup
* 3 tbsp. Butter or Margarine
* ¾ cup Walnuts or Pecans, chopped (optional)
* 12 slices firm White Bread (use for french toast)
* 3 Eggs, beaten (use for french toast)
* 1¼ cups Skim Milk (use for french toast)
* 1 tsp. Vanilla (use for french toast)
* ¼ tsp. Nutmeg (use for french toast)

Place apples in a medium-size skillet. Pour ½ cup water over apples. Simmer 4-5 minutes until apples are softened.

Drain apples in colander. Place in a bowl and gently mix in cinnamon and a little sugar if apples are too tart. Set aside.

In the same skillet, combine brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar melts and mixture just begins to come to a slow boil. Pour into a 13x9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with nuts (this optional, the girls don't like nuts).

In the traditional recipe, you are suppose to place 6 slices of bread on top of syrup and nuts. Divide apples among bread slices and top with remaining 6 slices. Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and nutmeg. Pour over "apple sandwiches." Cover and refrigerate over night. In the morning, preheat oven to 325ยบ and bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

In my version, I just went ahead and made up traditional french toast (kept the french toast slices warm in the oven until I had enough for everyone) and then poured my baked apple mixture over one slice of french toast and sandwiched it with another piece of french toast and served with additional maple syrup. I honestly didn't have 40 minutes to bake it because we were on a schedule, but either way is yummy.

It's so filling and I don't even want to think about how many calories are in this recipe. I'm thinking the next time we have overnight guests, I'm going to pull out this recipe again. The house smelled like fall all day.

August 23, 2009


It was a productive weekend of cleaning, back to school shopping, and enjoying a few fall recipes. I'm feeling recharged, but would love a three-day weekend. Oh well.

On Saturday, Emma and I had a mother-daughter day. It has taken her weeks to figure out what she was going to wear for school pictures (which actually happens this week on Wednesday). I am happy to report she FINALLY figured out the perfect outfit. We spent the majority of the day shopping at our local mall. It was just the two of us, but Josie benefited from our shopping spree.

Check out my two super models.

To make ME happy, we made a quick trip one of my favorite antique stores where I found a $2 black scrapbook which I turned into a book of spells and potions for our upcoming Halloween party.

I took the aged yellow pages out of the scrapbook and ran them through my printer. Microsoft Word has a chiller font which nicely compliments my spells and potions...moo ha ha.

After having so much fun creating my book of spells and potions, I decided to pull out my favorite witches and put them on top of my new black hutch. Yes. I realize it isn't even September yet, but when you see just how many decorations are involved in our upcoming Halloween party (which will also benefit Pearl River Outreach), you'll forgive a few witches in August.

Have a great week. I've got a crazy week at work and several evening obligations at the University. I'm glad my Mr. Mom is home for another 2 weeks.

August 21, 2009

This is what it's all about....

It's been a long week at work (next week is going to be even worse) but when I came home and saw my two girls so happy with each other, everything was good with the world again.

Bring on the weekend!!!

August 19, 2009

Going to my happy place...

I'm in no hurry to rush through August (believe me...I LOATH packing school lunches, Emma's homework stress and scrambling to get everyone out of the house on time) but LOOK what I found today when I went grocery shopping!!

Martha Stewart has a line of Halloween paper and it was just begging to come home with me. Aren't the designs lovely? For my new followers, Halloween is HUGE in our house and preparations take weeks (see here).

This time of year at my University is crazy busy, so sneaking in a craft after the girls are in bed puts me in my happy place.

I featured a tutorial on how to jazz up dollar store paper party hats on this post. It's the same concept, except I used my Halloween scrapbooking paper and black crepe paper.

I've got BIG plans for this fun Halloween paper. I'll probably save the rest of my Halloween crafting ideas for October, so be prepared..moo ha ha!!