Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Homemade Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I always loved dressing up and going trick or treating when I was a kid. Now I love watching my kids do the same thing. I haven’t dressed up in quite a while, but I think there might be some family costumes in our future. I just love seeing whole families participate in the festivities of the holiday! 

I like seeing creative costumes, especially homemade ones! 

I had some great friends share their homemade costumes with me, so I could share them with you!

This is my great friend KellyAnn, her husband Scott, and their kiddos!
She got the fabric for her daughter’s Dorothy costume from Wal-Mart.
Her husband’s costume is a sweatsuit purchased from Wal-Mart as well.
They bought a funnel, spray painted it silver, and added the heart on his chest
to complete the tin-man ensemble!
KellyAnn had all of the components of her costume on hand already, and
her son’s courageous lion costume was store-bought.

This is my sister-in-law, Elizabeth. She was Twitter for Halloween
last year! I thought it was a very clever costume. She found the
dress at a local clothing store, added a matching feather boa around the
bottom hem, and stuck some feathers in her hair.
She wore the dry erase board around her neck with her
twitter handle on it so people could ‘tweet’. 

These are our friends Steve, Debbie, and their children.
Debbie did an amazing job creating these costumes for her family this year.
She didn’t tell me the details about how she made them.
(Maybe it’s a lego ninja secret).
I would imagine there were lots of cardboard boxes, duct tape,
and paint involved!

I love hearing from my readers! 

Did you make your costume this year? Share it on my Facebook page! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

We had quite an eventful weekend!
It was packed full of fun Halloween activities.

We started with carving pumpkins. Big A did a great job, but she had a hard time getting the carving knife all the way through the pumpkin. I had to help her shape things up a little bit in the end, but the end result was not bad for an 8-year-old.
D carved the top pumpkin.
Big A carved the bottom pumpkin. 

Of course, you can’t carve pumpkins without roasting the seeds afterward!

We visited our church for the annual Trunk or Treat. My brother-in-law, his wife, and the kiddos joined us there for some fun!

Big A, Middle A & Little A with their cousins. 

Last year, our neighborhood held Trick or Treating on the Saturday before Halloween. We didn’t participate because we had other activities going on. Evidently it was decided that the turnout for weekend trick or treating was better than on Halloween, so they held it on the weekend again this year. We took the kids  around the neighborhood to score some more candy.

Middle A, Big A, and her bestie warmed up with hot chocolate! 

Also, over the weekend I came to the realization that my baby is about to turn a year old in just 2 weeks! She was such a big girl, going right up to people and holding up her bucket. When they would put candy in her hand, she would drop it right into her bucket. It was so cute, but it makes me sad to think that a whole year has passed already. 


I’m going to feature homemade Halloween costumes on Wednesday, so if you would like for me to include your homemade costumes, please email them to anorris21 [at] gmail [dot] com. I love hearing from my readers, and sharing crafty things they’ve done!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Craft: Felt Magnets & Brooches

A guest post by Sage Adderley.

My family loves Halloween. We spend weeks talking about what costumes we will put together, we carve pumpkins, and love to make things to hang up around the house to set the spooky mood.

This year, we decided to make some easy felt crafts. They were definitely a kid-friendly activity. We actually didn’t have to purchase any of the supplies, everything we used was already in our craft collection!

I found some magnets and pinbacks on clearance at our local craft store and finally put them to good use!

Squares of felt in various colors
Glue gun
Googly eyes in different sizes
Glitter pens

We simply cut Halloween-themed shapes like pumpkins, witch’s hat, a witch on a broomstick, a bat, and spider from the felt squares. We drew the outlines on the felt with a sharpie, but you can use stencils if you’d like.

There are no rules when it comes to this craft! Have fun and let the kids use their imagination. We glued one large eye on the bat to make a Cyclops bat and found a stick outside to use as the broomstick for the witch.

After you decorate the felt image, allow it to dry thoroughly and then flip it over to glue either a magnet or pinback. Let it dry again and you are all done.

TIP: There are many free stencils online that you can download and print. Just search free Halloween stencils and see what you come up with.


I met Sage six years ago. We have gotten to know each other over the last several years, and I'm lucky to be able to call her one of my best friends. She is a major inspiration to me, creatively and otherwise. She runs Sweet Candy Distro, and has a blog of her own called, 'my name is: Sage'.  She's a freelance writer and has an Etsy shop, which is also called, 'my name is: Sage'.  She recently started Sage’s Blog Tours, a tour of book reviews and promotions among numerous blogs, which I am honored to participate in.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saving Time & Money with Meal Planning

It seems as if I’m on a perpetual mission for organization in my house. I am always looking for efficient ways to simplify the inner workings of our household. For instance, I assign certain loads of laundry to certain days. Also, Big A cleans her room every single Monday. She knows when she gets home from school that after her homework is finished, it’s time to clean her room. This way we avoid arguing and whining and fussing because it’s not a surprise. One of the more recent things that I’ve done is created a Family Organization Notebook.
Please, don’t mind the big black square.
Our last name is under there.

...and evidently I’m just a regular Dr. Seuss.

This notebook is home to emergency phone numbers, babysitter information sheets, school calendars, monthly cleaning checklists, weekly cleaning checklists, monthly calendars for the entire year ahead, birthday lists, and my six-week rotating menu. YES! I said SIX-WEEK menu. This particular gem has been a lifesaver for me!

I was getting tired of buying and cooking the same meals over and over every two weeks. I wanted to add some variety, so I hopped over to Pinterest and looked at my Recipe board. I had pinned lots of recipes that we had yet to try, so I added a few to my new list. I compiled a list of about 30-35 meals, and put them in groups of fourteen. It took me about an hour to do this, as I didn’t want to have 3 Italian meals all grouped together, or tacos and fajitas in the same week, etc... I also tried to spread out the meals that tend to be more expensive so I could spread out the cost instead of having a really expensive menu one week, and a cheaper one the next.

After my meals were assigned to one of my three menus (remember, I shop for 2 weeks at a time), I created a list of items that I purchase on EVERY trip to the grocery store. For us, that’s things like flour, sugar, yeast, toilet paper, cereal, etc...

Then, I went back to the menus I had created and went through meal by meal to create a list. Every single ingredient for every meal was written down. I put tally marks next to the items I needed more than one of. When my rough draft is finished, I go to Microsoft Word and type up a list, complete with check boxes and blank spaces to add other items. Usually I have my grocery lists in order according to where things are located in the store, but my local Kroger has recently undergone some changes and now I’m lost when I go in there, so I’m re-learning the location of everything.

I don’t plan breakfast and lunch in detail like I do dinner. I usually just buy the same things for breakfast. We eat cereal, oatmeal, toast, eggs, or pancakes. For lunch it’s just me, Middle A & Little A at home, so we just eat leftovers, or make grilled cheese or PB&J’s. I keep it pretty simple. My shopping list covers anything I need for that. I normally only have to  go back to the store for milk after my initial shopping trip.


So you can get a better idea of what I’m doing, here are the meals I planned for menu rotation 3:

Spaghetti, Salad, Applesauce

Pulled Pork BBQ, Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob

Italian Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Cooked Carrots

French Toast, Eggs, Sausage

Potato Soup

Pizza x2 (We make homemade pizza every friday night.)

Chicken & Dumplings (crock pot recipe)

Seasoned Chicken, Potatoes, Broccoli & Cheese, Coooked Carrots

Ziti, Salad, Applesauce

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

Savory Pepper Steak & Rice (Crock pot recipe from my Recipes Board on Pinterest).

Meat Loaf, Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn on the Cob

Beef Tacos (there are no tortillas on the shopping list because I make them homemade,  also found on my Recipes Board on Pinterest)

Here’s a screenshot of my third grocery list:

Feel free to follow the link below to view or print it.

I wanted to share this little gem with you guys because people are always asking me how I feed our family of 5 for under $500 a month. This is how. Planning. Each of my lists costs me between $150-$200 at Kroger. Even less when there’s a good sale. 

I would be more than happy to share the rest of my menus and shopping lists if you like. Let me know in the comments below if you’re interested.

I would also love to hear how you save money on your grocery bill, as well as your favorite recipes! 

Happy Menu Planning!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: The Chupacabra

The Chupacabra
by Stephen Randel

Length: 322 pages
Publisher: Knuckleball Press (August 19, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0988222507
ISBN-13: 978-0988222502


He is called El Barquero. He makes his trade along the border, smuggling guns and killing without remorse. As he faces his one last mission, his perfect plan is unwittingly foiled by Avery, a paranoid loner obsessed with global conspiracy theories who spends most of his time crafting absurd and threatening letters to anyone who offends him. That means pretty much everyone. 
What unfolds is a laugh out loud dark comedy of madcap adventure stretching from Austin to the West Texas border, featuring a lunatic band of civilian border militia, a group of bingo-crazed elderly ladies (one packing a pistol nearly as long as her arm), a murderous and double crossing cartel boss, a burned-out hippy, and a crotchety retired doctor and his pugnacious French bulldog. Read it to believe it. 

My Review

Randel does a great job of creating each character in his book. By the end, you might not fully understand each one-since they’re all quirky in their own special way-but you sure will know them. From the strange and paranoid Avery, who is sure there is some kind of conspiracy theory behind everything that happens, to the dark and menacing El Barquero, who murders without a second thought, leaving bodies in his wake--each character has a vivid persona as well as an integral part in this story. 
It was amusing to read the events as they took place, from each character’s point of view--even the dog’s. The STRAC-BOM boys, Avery, and the hilarious group of elderly women keep the comedy going, while El Barquero fueled the serious side as he deals with drug cartels and the border patrol.  It’s the perfect mixture of dark drama and unpredictable comedy. 

About the Author

Stephen Randel, CFA, was born in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Steve now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and their two rescue dogs. 

For more information, visit his website

You can purchase The Chupacabra in paperback ($17.99) or ebook edition ($7.99) on Amazon. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wired by Angela Jewelry Giveaway!

I am so excited to introduce you to Angela! 

She has just launched her own small business, and I want to support her in her endeavors. 

She is a very talented wire jewelry designer, so I’m spreading the word about her products!

She’s agreed to give away this great ring & earring set here on my blog!
This is a $30 value!

Of course, if you would rather just purchase a set, you can visit her on Facebook and place an order. She charges just $3 shipping per order, and you can pay via Paypal.

It’s absolutely free to enter the giveaway. The prize includes one pair of earrings and one ring. There will be one winner, who will be chosen October 20th.

Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: Angel by Laura Lee

by Laura Lee

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his church duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so taken by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.
Even after he regains his focus and realizes that he has only seen a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction to the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through the vision and he must figure out what God is asking him to do.
Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul's ministry, but will put him at odds with the church he loves as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs about himself, his community and the nature of love.


Length: 200 pages
Publisher: Itineris Press (September 27, 2011)
ISBN-10: 161372103X
ISBN-13: 978-1613721032

My Review: While I have read stories, and even heard of real-life instances of a man or woman being married to someone of the opposite sex, and then falling in love with someone of the same sex, Lee takes it one step farther and involves a Christian minister. This book is very thought-provoking. As a Christian myself, I am a firm believer of spreading God’s love. I believe that we should love others, even when we don’t believe in the same things they do. That being said, I have had great and wonderful friends who are gay. However, they were not members of my church family, and the two lines never crossed. Lee challenges that when she introduces Ian and Paul. Paul, a minister, sees Ian as an angelic figure at first sight. He finds himself oddly attracted to Ian, but tries to justify the feelings--denying that he is attracted to the man, only to the angelic image he thought he saw. Over time, their relationship evolves into more than just friendship. Of course, as the reader, since you have seen this love story unfold you want Paul & Ian to--cliché as it is--live happily ever after. This is where the conflict with Christianity comes in. It had me asking myself many questions about religion and delving deeper into my beliefs. This is a very interesting book, written from a viewpoint I have never thought of. It is definitely a page-turner, as I just had to know what was going to happen next.

About the Author
Metro Detroit native Laura Lee divides her time equally between writing and producing ballet educational tours with her partner, the artistic director of the Russian National Ballet Foundation. She is the author of more than a dozen non-fiction books with such publishers as Harper Collins, Reader's Digest, Running Press, Broadway Books, Lyons Press and Black Dog and Leventhal. Her Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation has sold more than 85,000 copies. She has also written one collection of poetry (Invited to Sound), and a children's book (A Child's Introduction to Ballet). She brings to her writing a unique background as a radio announcer, improvisational comic and one-time professional mime.
For more information, you can visit her website
You can purchase her novel in paperback for $14.99 here
You can also purchase the e-book edition for Kindle for $6.99 here

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