As a child I loved dressing up for Halloween. I loved telling my mom what I wanted to be, helping her pick up supplies at the fabric store, and watching her sit behind the sewing machine to make my dream reality. Halloween was homemade, simple, and fun at our house. But sometime in my twenties I stopped enjoying getting in costume and eventually John and I created an annual tradition of going out to dinner for Halloween. Looking back I realize that part of that was out of protection for my heart. When you struggle with infertility and long for children of your own every single holiday is hard, even Halloween. I wished I had a little one to dress up and take trick-or-treating. So for several years we went out on a date and left Halloween behind. Bah humbug… or whatever the Halloween version of that is.

halloween-california

(Halloween in California… my sister the cat, my brother the bat, and me the clown – mom made all our costumes!)

Then Mareto came home and eight months later we had a cute fuzzy little lion who had just learned how to walk. We were ridiculously proud and enthusiastic parents walking him from shop to shop in Colonial Williamsburg for his first Halloween. The next year Arsema had been home just three weeks and she was a tiny thing – just over 10 lbs. They were Thing 1 & Thing 2 and I loved it. I even donned a “cat in the hat” top to walk around with them as they went door to door in my parents’ neighborhood. Last year they were an airplane and a lady bug and once again I just put on a sweatshirt for trick-or-treating because the focus was on the kids and their costumes… not mom.

mareto-lion

(He wasn’t just any lion, he was the courageous lion – red ribbon on the tail & badge of honor on his chest!)

dr-suess-halloween

(I put Arsema in the ergo for trick or treating and sewed a white circle that said “Thing 2″ on the outside of it. Also – that blue hair spray smelled really strong and made his hair super crunchy. It was also really flammable.)

ladybugandairplane

(Arsema insisted on carrying her own candy bucket – even when it was way too heavy and she was literally dragging it along the street. She wouldn’t let us touch it! Mareto’s airplane lasted longer than I expected, but he couldn’t wait to take it off. Hoping this year he tolerates his costume a bit better!)

This year the kids are in school and Arsema’s class is having a big Halloween party and then going trick-or-treating at the downtown shops. The parents are all supposed to come help and the teachers made a point to say that they encourage us to dress up… because they have to! Because I love her teachers and think they are wonderful I will dress up… sort of. I put together my “tiger/cat” costume in about 30 minutes, and I spent less than $10 at walmart, and most important it’s simple enough that I won’t feel ridiculous all day.

What you need:

  • A black and white (or black and gray) striped shirt. I happened to have a turtle neck like this already. Score.
  • Black pants. Already had these too.
  • Tiger ears. I found mine for $1.97 at walmart. (they were labeled white tiger ears, but I think they look more like zebra ears… oh well)
  • Black ballet flats. I found mine for $5 at walmart, but most of you probably already have a pair.
  • Black lace. Got mine for $1 at walmart.
  • Hot glue gun. I already have one.
  • Black sparkle nail polish. I found mine for $1.97 at walmart.
  • Black face paint or eye liner. I already had the eye liner so I will just use that.

The only crafty thing I had to do was add the lace to my shoes to spice them up a little. Just hot glue a strip of lace on the inside of either side of the shoe and tie in a bow. Then put on your pants, shirt, ears, and shoes. Use the eye liner to draw whiskers and paint your nose. Paint your nails sparkly black for a little extra fun. Viola! You’re a tiger… or a cat… or a zebra, whatever.

cat-lauren

and a shot of the shoes, just for fun…

shoes

I seriously phoned this one in, but this is already more than I would normally do! I put far more effort into the kids costumes and I can’t wait to share them with you – particularly Arsema’s! It’s ridiculously adorable, and fluffy, and pink, and fancy… and she helped me come up with it! And now I’m off to a pre-school Halloween party!

 

  • Amy - Haha reading this I remembered the Halloween after you got braces! You were 8 and we didn’t want you to be sad because you couldn’t have candy. So we threw that crazy party where we turned the house into a haunted house and invited the neighborhood and made ghoulish people to sit at the dining room table with balloons for heads! Do you remember that? What fun!ReplyCancel

    • Lauren - I do remember that! I didn’t remember that it was because of my braces though – haha! That was fun!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I love it! I really love the shoes …ReplyCancel

    • Lauren - I actually thought of you when I was making them… I thought, “This is such a Sarah thing… cute and crafty!” ;) ReplyCancel

When John and I were first married I knew how to cook a little, but not great. I could usually follow a recipe, but it took all my concentration and I had to follow that thing exactly or dinner would turn out terrible. Timing was my greatest struggle. I couldn’t figure out how to get all the sides done at the same time as the main dish so it would all be hot and ready at the same time. I wasn’t great at budgeting for meals either – mainly because I had to follow each recipe exactly so I never just substituted things for what I had on hand (or left unnecessary ingredients out.)

I remember several times that we had canned soup for dinner because what I had tried was inedible. I also remember the kitchen being a total disaster after every meal because I hadn’t learned the art of cleaning up as you go. I got married really young. I went from my parents’ house to the dorm back to my parents’ house to my new home with my new husband. I was 21 with very little cooking experience when all of a sudden it was my job to feed us. But those learning years were a lot of fun and I stuck with it through lots of trial and error because I really do love cooking.

001

I only have a handful of actual cookbooks because, well, pinterest. But I recently bought a new cookbook that I love and have already made several recipes from. Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food released a cookbook that I’ve found to be really useful. I think what I love most is that her recipes are just normal recipes that can be used for everyday. They don’t require hard to find ingredients, and they are a healthier take on a lot of traditional recipes. She also has two children so the recipes are already geared for a family of four – perfect for us!

003

Also, it’s fall, and there are ton of soups in this cookbook. So I’ve made a few and each one has been delicious. I mean really, really, really good AND super easy to make. What’s easier than the crockpot? Last night I tried her potato soup recipe.

004

One of the things I’ve learned over the last decade of cooking is how to change up recipes to suit our likes and what’s actually in our pantry. I did follow this recipe pretty close with a few minor changes. We don’t like the skin on our potatoes so I peeled them, we also prefer things to be vegetarian whenever possible so I used veggie broth rather than chicken broth. I also rarely measure things anymore… I kind of just eyeball them and can tell if it needs more or less of a certain item. The soup was absolutely delicious and our home smelled amazing as it simmered in the crockpot all day.

012

014016

We can also vouch for a few other recipes in this cookbook: the corn chowder, the tomato bisque, the pumpkin muffins, banana pancakes, the black bean tostadas, the eggplant parmesan, and the whole roasted chicken (in the crockpot!!) Next up on my list of things to try is the cinnamon raisin quick bread.

I should also add that Lisa Leake has no idea I’m writing this post. I didn’t get the book for free or receive any other compensation for this — I just really loved the book and wanted to share with you! Plus I keep tweaking her recipes, so she probably wouldn’t love that. If you want to order a book you can find it here!