Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Murder Mystery Dinner Party: Shots Fired at Jonathan Taylor's Estate on Halloween

Guests gathered for Jonathan Taylor's annual Halloween party. Attendees included Shania Vain, Ginger Heart, Michelle Proud, Marlena Maples, Peter Jenkins, Elvis Erickson, Percy Slick, & Winfrow Adams. As they mingled with their drinks & eats (poison (beer), potion (wine), spider (deviled) eggs, & bandaged fingers (mini wieners), they began getting to know one another.

Suddenly, shots rang out. Jonathan Taylor was found dead in the wine cellar. 

With their little investigation notepads, the guests got to solving the crime. Who had motive & the weapon to kill Mr. Taylor? As the interrogations continued, the guests sat down for dinner as that is what Jonathan would have wanted according to party planner Ginger Heart. 

With a fall dinner of witches brew & worms (aka chili & spaghetti) and delicious black velvet truffle for dessert, everyone submitted their murders to the police. Michelle Proud solved the crime as Peter Jenkins was the killer with a revolver in the wine cellar. He was cuffed and escorted to the dungeon where he drank copious amounts of bourbon and played pool with his fellow suspects.

As party favors for being such great detectives, everyone received a carmel apple. Detective work is tough stuff!

**A big thank you to Murder Mystery Maniacs for helping with the plots, characters, & crime! We had an absolute blast dressing up and being detectives. True to our characters, we acted to the best of our abilities resulting in loads of laughs and a wonderful adult evening for all!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October Date: Haunted House Horseman's Hollow & Spooky Dessert for Two at Main Street Sweets

I can't believe we have reached our last & final date from our one year anniversary gift. At times, planning a weekend for the dates was exhausting but I cannot think of a better gift that I could have given Ryan. We have really enjoyed our dates for two and our dates for three throughout the last year. We have seen so much of New York that we might not have otherwise.

For our October date, we decided to get our spook on. Sleepy Hollow is known for its legendary characters and the Hudson Valley hosts all sorts of holiday events for residents to enjoy. From Halloween to New Years, the river towns bring entertainment to the next level.

Also since each date has featured a food component, I though dessert was the perfect way to wrap up our dates and incorporate the best part of halloween: the treats! So we stopped by Main Street Sweets in Tarrytown before entering the haunted house. With the chilling temps, we opted out of their homemade ice cream and into their homemade cookies, brownies, & cupcakes. The shop had that old school, mom & pop feel which was just what we needed.

After energizing our sweet tooth, we headed to Phillips Manor for the Headless Horseman's Hollow. The headless horseman himself made an appearance riding up on his white horse and galloping through the crowds.

The 45-minute haunted walk, forest, house, & corn maze was uniquely Hudson Valley with colonial dead characters, spooky figures lingering in the distance, and goorey displays left & right. We were surrounded by children which made it even more fun to see them spooked & scared.

The past 12 months have been filled with many great experiences and this was certainly a great way to finish out the dates!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Music Mondays: The Voice

I have been watching The Voice this season and cannot get enough of it. I especially love the remixes of current hits during the Battle Rounds. I love the Gavin version...

And I love this duo version with George Jorga Jr & Juhi...

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Daffodil Dandy

Last Saturday morning Adelaide & I headed over to Vassallo Park to plant daffodils. I saw the sign as we were driving Ryan to work a few weeks ago so I marked my calendar. The park supplied the bulbs, soil, & coffee so how could I resist!

Plus as I was reaching the planting I learned that this tradition began in October 2001, two months after 9/11. The daffodils are planted in honor & remembrance of the fallen on September 11, 2001. Each year they choose a new spot around Croton to plant the daffodils and daffodils continue to come back year after year. Never being forgotten.

There were so many families helping with kids of all ages. It was sweet to see the kids digging holes, planting bulbs, and spreading soil over top. Adelaide even had her own shovel...which had to be taken away from her shortly thereafter because she thought it was a teething toy.

We really did enjoy getting our hands dirty, chatting with our community members, and continue to remember those who should not and will not ever be forgotten!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spooky Tot's Arts & Crafts

Now that the temperature has dropped and inside play is heading our way, I decided that I better come up with a few activities to keep us both sane. So I got to Pinterest & blog stalking to find some Halloween and toddler friendly things for Adelaide & I to do. I love themes so using the various holidays as inspiration puts a smile on my face. Plus who doesn't love to get in the holiday spirit?!

First we decided to paint with pudding! My friend Elizabeth had written about how much fun her son Henry had with it and how edible it was for little creatures who still put things in their mouthes :) I grabbed some vanilla pudding (pre-made), black and red food coloring, and this cute little pumpkin tray. And we got to playing painting. I laid out the mat that we use under Adelaide's high chair to catch food because it can easily be hosed off. I took her pj's off because I thought what it cuter than a baby Picasso in a diaper! Then I put a few pieces of card stock out and let her do her thing.

I sort of made a whole morning of Halloween fun. We had pumpkin spice donuts & pumpkin chocolate chip bread for breakfast. Then I gave Adelaide her tricks & treats so that she could enjoy them during the next few weeks. Post painting I put her skeleton jammies on so we could cuddle weekend style with a touch of spook!

my little skeleton

no tricks, only treats!

treats from Mimi

Little People Halloween Haunted House

loving the pumpkin chocolate chip bread & her new pumpkin sippy cup

The next weekend I decided to get a little more crafty and do pumpkin faces. By crafty I mean I knew this would be a difficult task for Adelaide because she is only 13 1/2 months so following directions and glue sticks probably aren't the best combo. But nonetheless we got to putting the pre-cut black card stock shapes & faces onto orange plates to make pumpkins. A big thanks to Craftulate for this simple & cute idea.

She may or may not have been more interested in putting the paper in her mouth than the actual craft

I am really looking forward to the next few holidays & crafting with little Ms. Adelaide Jane! I love starting traditions and this is a great mommy/daughter one for us!

**For more toddler Halloween activities, click here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oktoberfest: Date Night

Last Thursday night we went out on a rare date night. Most of our dates include Adelaide which is great but I do yearn for adult interaction only or should I say uninterrupted adult interaction! Our Parent-Child Group organization is fabulous about getting moms and couples out of the house and mingling. For their fall event, Oktoberfest was planned with music, beer, & dancing. Yes count us in!

We met up with our fabulous friends: Whitney & Tommy, Heather & Matt, Aggie & Michael, and Rabia & Robert for a fun night of adult fun. The band, Mojo Filter, was jammin. The drinks of wine & beer were flowing. The vintage popcorn machine was poppin. The men were chatting. And the ladies were dancin.

It is amazing what a few hours out can do to rejuvenate the mind & soul. We had a wonderful time just relaxing with friends and letting loose. Cheers to a great date night with friends!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Become a Better You: A Book Review

The second book that Kelley sent me was actually a journal that accompanies a book. She had started it and found it to be extremely helpful. Become a Better You is broken down into seven steps with each step having seven action points. The journal is made to have you reflect for 49 days/7 weeks, taking one small lesson at a time. The purpose being to really stop, think, pray, & plan on each particular point.

Step One: Keep Pressing Forward
This step is all about recognizing your potential, the family you come from, and how to dream BIG and achieve a lasting legacy.

Step Two: Be Positive Toward Yourself
This step is all about realizing that you are a child of God who was perfectly made by our creator, loving you for you, and being your biggest fan.

Step Three: Develop Better Relationships
This step is all about building stronger relationships with those in your life, cutting out the negative people in your life, and giving without receiving.

Step Four: Form Better Habits
This step is all about feeding your positive habits & thoughts, living with joy daily, and remembering that happiness is a choice.

Step Five: Embrace the Place Where You Are
This is step is all about remaining in faith, having trust in the Lord, and knowing that God is in the details.

Step Six: Develop Inner Life
This step is all about your conscious, the small voice inside of you, and starting over with a clean slate through forgiveness.

Step Seven: Stay Passionate About Life
This step is all about singing the song in your heart, planning for your successes, and not accepting no as an answer.

I did a speed version of the journal because I didn't have the patience to only do one per day and I wanted to pass it along to my friend who I thought could benefit from it as well. I am so thankful for having a best friend who saw me in need and sent me two of the best spiritual & life books out there. I have a renewed sense of joy & faith, and I owe it all to Kelley!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

September Date: A Starbucks *Fall* Treat & Pumpkin Picking at Barton Orchards

Sunday morning I snuck out of the house and sped to Starbucks to get our seasonal coffee treats before Ryan or Adelaide woke up. Part of the *fall* experience is enjoying a few PSL with extra pumps of pumpkin spice and whipped cream of course! Last year when I had planned our dates for Ryan's anniversary gift, I bought a Starbucks gift card to put in the September envelope. Yay for already having paid for our treats ;)

Now I know it is October but we had a little mix up of dates which caused us to postpone our September date until this month. No worries! It just means we get two dates this month.

After the late risers were up and dressed, we drove an hour north to Barton Orchards. I had researched many pumpkin patches in the surrounding area and this one had the best reviews so I was really looking forward to it. And boy did it live up to my expectations and more.

Anything you can think of they had. From apple pie a la mode to milkshakes to carmel corn to apple cider donuts to a fudge shoppe. From bouncy castles to corn mazes to digging for gold to haunted houses to playgrounds to countless photo cutouts to an elaborate petting zoo. From pulled pork to veggie burgers to apple chips to peanut butter pretzels. From apple picking to pumpkin picking to hayrides to corn stalks for buying to three live bands across the property.

We had an absolute blast of a day. We arrived just before 11am and stayed for 3 hours. We still weren't able to cover everything. Adelaide loved *walking* and *dancing* and *eating*. She loved petting the animals (ponies, goats, pigs, & donkey). She loved hugging pumpkins. She loved watching the other kids. Ryan & I loved watching how big our sweet baby girl has gotten. We loved watching her personality spark. We loved watching her enjoy herself.

If you live in the area, don't miss out on Barton Orchards. It truly is a wonderful place for families and there is something to do for everyone in your bunch. We are looking forward to returning next year!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Snapshots on a Saturday: Play, Play, Play

We jumped head first into the week and the fall weather. As in we came back from Florida's 90 degrees to New York's 60 degrees. Talk about a shock! But the cooler temperatures didn't seem to hold us back.

We got plenty of outside play at Benjamin's house...

And enjoyed indoor fun at the Stepping Stones Children Museum...

We are really loving all of these play dates with our friends!! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Celebrating the Flirty 30: Naples Style

Last week Adelaide & I packed our bags and headed south. Despite the weather being gorgeous in NY, we had a girls weekend planned for ages in Naples. Greeted with blue skies & 90 degree temps, we set out to get the house ready for our bffs.

Marquette & Ali arrived Thursday. Kel & Aham flew in Friday. In honor of our 30th birthdays this year, we decided to take a girls trip. We had high hopes of somewhere exotic when we were planning this a few years back, but we found Naples to be the key. *We definitely missed JL who just welcomed her 2nd baby boy & Kimmie who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her niece/nephew*

Welcome Gifts! Beach towel, gossip mags, sunscreen, & gum

When you are 30, you spend vacations chilling poolside with a cocktail or two (not ten like in your twenties!). You also take morning walks around the neighborhood to get a little exercise. You still enjoy the thrill of a good golf cart race and dancing is not an option but a mandatory task.

Just ask Adelaide...she seems to have the Miley twerk down perfectly.

But perhaps the best part of being 30 is that when you see your friends you spend time talking. Really talking and catching up about the important parts of their lives. Their secrets. Their happy times. Their dreams.

Adelaide & I thoroughly enjoyed our time with our bffs. It was just what we needed to rejuvenate us and make easing into fall/winter temps bearable!! Until the next trip, we love you girls and will cherish the weekend!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Greenburgh Nature Center: A Playground for All

The weather in New York has been gorgeous. We were able to hold onto summer until almost the end of September which was perfect for me. And when we returned from KY, the heat had burned off and the cool crisp mornings with sunny, warm afternoons had arrived. So our Tuesday playgroup decided to take advantage and get outdoors! In NY, you never know when the next hurricane or blizzard might strike!!

Five moms & 5 tots drove down to Scarsdale to the Greenburgh Nature Center. The 33-acre facility is a nature preserve that features a beautiful walking paths, a petting zoo, an elaborate & eco-friendly playground for ages 6 months to 12 years old, an animal museum, and many other family oriented things.

We packed our lunches and set out blankets for the kids to eat & play. After lunchtime, we headed down to the playground to let the little ones let off some steam. Adelaide was obsessed with the slide...going down head first mind you. She would quickly race to the stairs, climb them, then push anyone who was waiting to go down the slide out of her way. She must have done this 20 times! Other great playground features included the mini tunnel, the swing, and the peek-a-boo bars.

Such a great afternoon with friends and here's hoping that the weather holds off a little longer so we can get outdoors even more!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Calm My Anxious Heart: A Book Review

A few weeks ago I received a package in the mail from my best friend Kelley. I opened it to find 3 books: the bible, Calm My Anxious Heart, & How to be a Better You. The card was as sweet as can be since she knew I had been struggling with stress & anxiety as of late. She explained each book and why she thought it would help me as well as how they had helped her.

So I got to reading...

I started with Calm My Anxious Heart because I thought I needed it most. It can also be used as a 12 week bible study so I thought reading and answering the questions would be a good start for me to fully examine my life.

The book is 12 chapters with the first discussing the author and her journey to contentmen. The next 4 chapters (2-5) discuss contentment in the four main areas of our life: circumstances, being me, my role(s), and relationships. Being content is such a tricky thing. I feel like I am content at times but other times I want more. I was raised to be very goal-oriented and to dream big. I was also raised to be thankful & appreciative for all that I have been blessed with. Where do I find the balance? These chapters really helped me realize that being content with the gifts that God has given me, the role(s) and relationships that He has blessed me with doesn't mean I stop dreaming; it simply means I live in the moment of joy.

Chapters 6, 7, & 8 take a look at three elements that hender our contentment. The first being greed or the feeling that we never have enough. With social media so prevalent these days, we are often made to feel like our house isn't adequate, our hobbies aren't as tasteful, our parenting is par, etc. In the last few years, I have really tried hard to overcome this stigma. I can remember watching everyone else get engaged and literally breaking down into tears waiting on Ryan to propose. I am happy to say that this is an area where I have made great strides, but this chapter was a wonderful reminder/reality check.

The second contentment blocker is a faulty focus. Often in life we are focused on the wrong thing, living life without a purpose. I personally have a tough time getting through days when I don't have a plan or a focus. I feel like I've wasted the day. So why wouldn't this be the same in life? I have always thought about, prayed about, and written my goals at the start of each year. I also keep a "life goals" list for those things I hope to accomplish throughout my time here. This chpater was a wonderful reminder to continue re-evaluating my life purpose with God as the center.

The final issue is worry. Oh man do I need help in this area! I am a worrier with some many things about life; generally the small, insignificant issues. And of course some of the larger ones too! But worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but doesn't get you anywhere. I felt a great sense of peace reading this chapter with the bible verses and examples of how people have lifted their worry up to God. It is something that I plan to and hope to practice in my daily life.

Chapter 9 turns the corner and begins to speak about how to become content. Faith must be our foundation in growing with God and becoming content within our hearts. Easier said than done of course as faith requires believing in what we cannot see.

The final three chapters discuss trust. Trusting God with the what ifs, the if onlys, and the whys. As humans, we want answers. Our fears are in the what if (i.e. what if I don't find a spouse, what if I lose my job, what if I can't have children). Fear inhibits us from faith and contentment. Our need for material things lies in if only (i.e. if only I made more money, if only I could have a better car, if only he loved me). Greed hardens the heart & soul. Our lack of faith is in the whys (i.e. why did I have to get injured, why did I have to get caught sneaking out, why did I have to get divorced). Without faith, we have nothing.

I really enjoyed reading this book and beginning my journey to contentment. I read each chapter then went back and did the questions to re-exam the chapters once more. This way I felt like I was able to double dip into the messages at hand.

I highly recommend this book to any woman who is seeking the contentment that we all deserve.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pick of the Patch

A few Sundays ago,  we enjoyed a family afternoon at the neighboring pumpkin patch, Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard, in North Salem. The weather was perfectly *fall* and we were dressed in our pumpkin best.

I am a summer girl at heart, but I do enjoy the joys of fall (i.e. pumpkin spice lattes, picking pumpkins, the aroma of pumpkin spice) so going to a pumpkin patch as a family annually is a must. Things were a lot different this year since little Miss Adelaide could roam the grounds herself...well holding our hands.

She was so attentive to the live band, children running & dancing, smells of apple cider, and the taste of pumpkin cheesecake. Ryan & I enjoyed the food fare sharing a turkey leg and corn chowder. We grabbed a basket of apples to make sweet desserts this fall. I couldn't resist the apple cider so I indulged in a large cup. We also walked away with two pumpkins and a small pumpkin cheesecake. Yummy!

In addition to these fun fall traditional activities, they also had hayrides, temporary tattoos, face painting, and bouncy castles. Plenty to do for the little ones. We definitely plan to make this place an annual tradition as well as explore other fall hot spots in Westchester County!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

7x7 Remix Challenge

Over at Ma Nouvelle Mode, the Copy Cat Closet Challenge morphed into the 7x7 Remix Challenge. Aside from being super busy lately with all sorts of travel, I have also been a bit intimidated by the new challenge. It was much easier when someone was basically telling me how to dress...this girl likes direction ;) But grabbing 7 pieces of clothes from my closet and making 7 suitable outfits seemed terrifying...

...until I started packing for California and realized that the less I packed the better. So I set out to complete my first 7x7 Remix Challenge for our trip. Now CA weather is all over the map and since our trip entailed going from San Francisco (think 60s & super cool in the evenings) to Santa Barbara (think 70s & cool at night) to Los Angeles (think 80s) to San Diego (think the most perfect temperature all day, every day), I needed to be prepared for climate changes.

Here are the pieces that I chose:

1- White Tank
2- Long Sleeve White Lace Shirt
3- Beige Sparkle Heart Shirt
4- Long Sleeve Black Button Down Shirt
5- Faded Purple Shorts
6- Black Sparkly Skinny Jeans
7- Black & White Striped Dress

Because my theme was minimal, I opted for only 4 pairs of shoes (one of which I wore on the plane):

1- Teal Sandals
2- Black Sandals with a slight heel
3- Pink Flats
4- Nude Wedges

As for accessories & jewelry, I knew I needed to add pops of color and dress up a few of the outfits so I tried to get creative and shop my closet...way back there:

Here are my 7 outfits:

Add caption

Outfit One:
Black & White Striped Dress and Long Sleeve Black Button Down Shirt
*Worn during travels to CA & for wine tasting upon arrival*

Outfit Two:
White Tank, Long Sleeve White Lace Shirt and Black Sparkly Skinny Jeans*Worn in San Fran to Golden Gate Park & for dinner with friends*

Outfit Three:
White Tank,  Long Sleeve Black Button Down Shirt, and Faded Purple Shorts
*Worn for our road trip to Solvang & at the Monterey Bay Seaquarium*

Outfit Four:
Beige Sparkle Heart Shirt and Faded Purple Shorts
*Worn in Solvang shopping, on our road trip to LA, & for a BBQ with friends*

Outfit Five:
White Tank, Long Sleeve White Lace Shirt and Faded Purple Shorts
*Worn on our road trip to SD & at a play date in OC*

Outfit Six:
Black & White Striped Dress
*Worn for brunch, a stroll on the beach, & shopping*

Outfit Seven:
Beige Sparkle Heart Shirt and Black Sparkly Skinny Jeans
*Worn for our travel back to NY*

This was one of the smartest ways that I have ever packed. I can't say that I will do this every time that we go on a trip, but I will definitely be testing it again! A big thanks to Nikki at Bedazzles After Dark for helping me get this all organized and for the inspiration!