October 31, 2014

Dear Frannie Friday--Cheap and Easy Halloween Party Ideas

For the past four years I've hosted a Halloween party for my kids.  With three kids each inviting about 8 kids (about 1/4 of which actually R.S.V.P.) plus kids from the neighborhood plus cousins and family friends, that adds up to a lot of kids.  Not to mention I work, my kids are all in after school activities, I have a baby now and there's the whole chore thing.  So the name of the game with these parties are: cheap and easy.  So if you are interested in throwing your own Halloween party for kids, here are some of my tried and true tips for over the years.


First of all, I always schedule my parties to start after lunch, but before dinner.  That way the only thing you have to worry about are snacks and drinks.  This year I went lighter on the snacks than I usually due just because of time, but here are some really cheap and really easy snacks that I have made in the past:

Witch Hats and Bloody Bandaids

Disgusting, I know, but they're easy and kids like them.  All you need to make the bandaids are graham crackers, white frosting and red tube frosting.  It's pretty self-explanatory.  You put a dab of white frosting in the middle and a dot or so of red frosting on top of that.  My kids helped me with these a few years ago.  They were a bit excessive on the red frosting . . .

The witch hats are just Hershey kisses "glued" with white frosting to Fudge Stripe cookies.  Easy as can be.

Rice Krispie Pumpkins

Ok, so these might not be as easy as the previous snacks, but they are cheap and I make them every year.  All you do is make Rice Krispie treats--that's the easy part.  I put a drop of red and yellow food dye in the marshmellow and butter mixture to get the orange color before adding the cereal.  The tricky part is getting them into pumpkin shapes.  I still haven't learned an easy trick for this without getting it all over myself, but it is still pretty easy.  The "stems" are just Tootsie Rolls.  If you're really fancy, you could probably add a "leaf" with green tube frosting.  Usually by the time I get this far, I'm done with the pumpkins.  But it's an option.

I also try to have a few crafts on hand for any younger kids or just kids that would rather create than play games.  It's worked pretty well although we didn't do it so much this year as the kids are all older.  But in the past I've made these:

Paper Plate Ghosts, Blow-Pop Ghosts and Popcorn Hands  

These are very cheap and simple to make.  For the paper plate ghosts, all that you need are cheap paper plates, tissue or crepe paper and markers to draw faces.  For the Blow-Pop ghosts you need suckers (I found Blow-Pops or Tootsie Pops work best), Kleenex, yarn and markers to draw faces.  The popcorn hands are just plastic gloves (clear, obviously) stuffed with cheddar popcorn and tied with yarn.

Beanbag Tosses (Monster and Pumpkin)  

I made these the first year I did this because Brielle and her friends were three and I thought it would be a way to entertain the younger kids.  But you know what?  I still bring these same things out every year and every year they get played with.  The monster and pumpkin are a little worse for the wear, but for four years use, it's not so bad.  They are just drawn on presentation posterboard and propped up along a fence.

The bean bags are just Halloween socks filled with pinto beans.  No sewing required!

The highlight of the party is obviously the games.  They keep order, they draw excitement and they let the kids that don't know each other bond.  All of these games cost next to nothing and require nearly no set up, if any.

Every year we do bobbing for apples.  It's a tried and true hit.  All you need?  A bucket and some apples.  We add dry ice to the bucket for the spooky effect, but even that cost is minimal.  Just be careful with it, obviously.

Every year excepting this last one, we played The Mummy Game.  Each team gets a roll of toilet paper in which to create their mummies.  So literally all that you need is enough toilet paper for each team to get a roll or two.  And we use a stopwatch on our phones.

This year we added Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin to our games.  It was our first time.  All we needed for this was a posterboard to draw the pumpkin on, another posterboard to cut out "stems", some scotch tape to stick on the back of the stems and a blindfold.  I didn't expect this game to be such a hit, but all the kids loved it!

The favored part of the party is always the scavenger hunt.  All you need for this is to make enough lists for each team--usually half a dozen will suffice--and enough grown ups to help you man the teams.  I usually give the kids an hour to complete the task and we have never gone over that.

Our parties are always a hit.  I thought the kids might be getting too old for them (and indeed Kaden opted to have just a few friends stay over and watch scary movies this year instead) and almost opted not to do it this year.  But it was not only my kids but all of their friends that were begging me to still do it.  It has become a tradition and one that (while exhausting) I am proud to give my kids.  

Happy Halloween everyone!

Black Blazer-thrifted; Red and White Striped Tee-Jones New York; Denim Cutoffs-DIY, thrifted (maternity); Studded Gladiator Sandals-Target; Earrings-gifted; Anchor Necklace-Charming Charlie's

October 30, 2014

Thursday Mixer--Black and White Striped Pencil Skirt

I bought this skirt on clearance almost immediately upon stumbling on it after I had Reilly.  It was stretchy, elastic waist and striped.  Done, done and done.  And on sale!  I knew it would be a perfect transition back into my old body while embracing my new body.

I paid $12 for it back in June and I've already worn it 5 documented times.  That makes the price per wear about $2.40.  And I anticipate wearing this at least 50 more times.  So, yeah, great investment.

1, 2, Now, 4, 5

If you follow me on Instagram (#andyoushouldduh), you've seen a few pictures lately of my niece, Anya.  She was born with Spina Bifida.  She is 8 years old and just had her fourth (I'm pretty sure) surgery--2 of which were within her first day of life.  She has exceeded every expectation ever placed on her by doctors and her spirit is beautiful.  She is caring, funny, sweet and beautiful.
I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of her.  She constantly has a warm and inviting heart.  She is so smart.  The kid literally makes friends everywhere she goes.  Everywhere.  She makes friends at my boys' football games.  She makes friends in line at the grocery store.  She makes friends at school.  She is amazing.

Well while she was at the hospital this last time, she visited the media room.  I thought it was a real news story, but actually it is a room set up to look like a newsroom.  They have broadcasts and reporters and everything.  Anya was there waiting to be discharged and, well, of course stole the show. 

I've watched this video no less than 8 times.  And every time it makes me smile.  I love this little girl.


Cropped Plaid Blazer-thrifted; Black and White Striped Pencil Skirt-Target; Black Tank-Old Navy; Heeled Saddle Oxfords-Charlotte Russe; Earrings-Charming Charlie's; Necklace-Empowerment Circle of Support from Avon

October 29, 2014

Word Wednesday--Teaching and Learning

Working with Kaden on his schoolwork the past couple of months has really opened my eyes to many aspects of teaching and public education.  I realize how difficult of a job teaching is.  I recognize how some teachers were so invested in Kaden and his success.  I recognize how ignorant or close-minded others were.  I recognize the ridiculous way Kaden somehow breezed through grades without basic skills just so that the school wouldn't suffer through funding.  I could go on and on.  But the basics that I've learned is this--every kid learns in a different way.  Conner is a whiz.  He gets it.  He needs to be challenged constantly or he doesn't learn.  Brielle is extremely organized and Type A.  She loves doing homework, making word webs and lists.  Kaden is creative.  He needs to have less structure and a positive association for his lessons to stick.  

In celebration of learning and teaching differences, here are some quotes for you on the subject:

Skirt-thrifted; Black Turtleneck-thrifted; Black Boots-Wal-Mart; Necklace-gifted; Earrings-Kohl's

October 28, 2014

Share the Covers--Something

The original by The Beatles . . .

And the amazing cover featured on one of the best movies on the planet, Across the Universe . . .


This outfit was shot on one of those amazingly perfectly fall days.  It was drizzly but still.  And the moisture in the air was maintaining a gorgeous color in all the trees.  It's happening.  We had a good fun streak of high, hot temps, but it's cooling down now for sure.  And can I admit that I'm not mad about it?

I'm not a fan of the cold.  But I can do an occasional chilly.  I don't like slush or snow, but I'll take some rain.  And I definitely like the option of throwing on a leather jacket without sweltering.

I drove by this spot and just knew it was where I wanted to take my pictures.  The tree was such a brilliant yellow and it looked amazing against the bold red bridge. 

I was so stoked about it that it warranted an Instagram.  By the way--are we friends there yet?  It's my new social media fave.

Navy Joggers-Wayf from Nordstrom's; Pale Blue Tank-thrifted; Sandals-Candie's; Belted Cuff-H&M; Earrings-gifted; Glasses-Bebe

October 27, 2014

Make it Monday No More

Sometimes you just have to admit defeat.  I have only been doing Make it Mondays for a little while now but I've decided to not do them for now.  Maybe they need tweeking or maybe they need to go away altogether.  I'm not sure.

I like sharing things I do off of Pinterest.  I still use it nearly everyday to get dressed or cook or for crafts when my kids get bored.  I think it's a great tool for inspiration.

The problem is that I suck at taking pictures of food.  Usually I'm just in a hurry to get dinner on the table and don't even think about taking pictures of the finished product until it's . . . well . . .been finished.  And you can forget the process portion.  And wen my kids and I do crafts I certainly don't think about pulling out my camera!  The time that I have where my kids want to hang out with me is fleeting as it is--why would I spoil our time with constant cameras in their face?

So, you got me--I'm not going to dread Mondays anymore than I have to.  And I'm sure you're all fine with it.  In the meantime, I might think of another way to incorporate it into my posts somehow.  Any ideas are welcome.

Animal Print Wrap Dress-thrifted c/o Goodwill Swap and Shop; Booties-Nine West, thrifted and gifted; Grey Tights-Kohls; Necklace-c/o onecklace; Sunnies-shop in mall; Earrings-Shane Co., gifted by Patrick
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