Our 2011 Halloween Costumes

Happy OFFICIAL Halloween, everyone! Although today is the actual true Halloween, all our festivities took place on Saturday. We had Trick or Treat Saturday evening (and had to make an emergency run to Walgreens to get extra candy after nearly running out in the first hour!), and once that ended, Eric and I changed into our costumes for grown-up Trick or Treat (which, essentially is just bar hopping around Bay View).

So, what were our costumes?

I was none other than Olympic hero Kerri Strug, member of the 1996 "Magnificent Seven" gymnastics team, who, up against an incredible injury upon her final vault, stuck the landing and clinched the gold for Team USA.

I had such a fun time with my costume. I bought the leotard and then used iron-on lettering for the USA and stars. The wig was actually a Donald-Trump wig that I took some scissors to and cut to look more like Kerri's hair. I was also happy to use an authentic medal I'd won when I was a gymnast years ago (hence, why the idea of dressing as Kerri Strug was so appealing tome). The windbreaker and crutches were purchased for $3 each at a local thrift store. Thankfully, it all came together very easily!
 So many people came up to me telling me how much they enjoyed it. Though I did get a few people who asked if I was Nancy Kerrigan, quite a few others knew who I was instantly.

As for Eric, he also went the mid-1990s route and dressed as Weird Al Yankovic from the "Amish Paradise" video. While I would've preferred him going as my Bela Karolyi, he had his heart set on this costume, and I thought he pulled it off very nicely. Any bar we went that had a digital jukebox, he ordered "Amish Paradise" to play, and walked around singing it to everyone. He got plenty of laughs. 

While I loved both our costumes, there were a few others that I liked, as well.
While I've seen Buddy the Elf done quite a few times before, this Buddy, and his Papa Elf, carried around their own little bottles of maple syrup, which was a nice touch.

This was probably my favorite costume I saw of the night. Sure, you see Forrest Gump all the time at Halloween, but the Lieutenant Dan costume was just so spot-on. And the real kicker? Lieutenant Dan was a girl!She did such a good job with her costume.

Sue Sylvester and this... vampire woman? Were very excited about my Kerri Strug costume. They kept coming up to me all night exclaiming how much they liked it. So, of course, we needed a picture together.

 We were particularly happy about this Lunch Lady costume - not only because she put it together so well, but that her "mystery meat," as she called it, was some of the most delicious pumpkin fudge I've ever tasted. Bonus points for serving treats!
I loved this girl's Black Swan costume. She really looked a lot like Natalie Portman from the film. She said she never dressed up for Halloween, but threw this costume together at the last minute - I was impressed!

Finally, this guy had a really intricate, homemade suit made entirely of PBR cans. I gave him two thumbs up for creativity and for putting all that work into it!

There' always such an excited build up to Halloween each year, I get so sad when it's over. I figured out my costume all the way back in April, so I couldn't wait to actually put the idea into action! I don't know how I'll top this idea next year, but the planning process usually begins in the beginning of the year, so I hope I can come up with something great. 

What did you dress up as for Halloween? What was the best costume you saw?


Happy (unofficial) Halloween!

Though actual Halloween isn't technically until Monday, today is the day many of us, old and young, dress up and celebrate the occasion. Halloween has always been a big deal to me, and for the majority of my life I've always gone all-out on my costumes. When I was little, stand-out costumes included a handmade Funshine Bear (Carebear), Fievel Mousekewitz from "An American Tale," Pippy Longstocking, and, yes, even a tennis ball and.... a carrot. I was a unique child. 

I stopped dressing up from about age 13-18, but was reintroduced to the magic of Halloween as a freshman at Ohio University. Aside from University of Wisconsin-Madison, OU's Halloween is the biggest Halloween party in the nation, and it was always a fantastic (albeit incredibly crowded) time. Because I was a single, early 20s girl, I sadly reduced myself to wearing those skimpy costumes I so look down upon now, but still tried to be creative - one year I went as "Snakes on a Stewardess" - a play on the "Snakes on a Plane" movie that I was so obsessed with the summer before my senior year.

When I moved to Milwaukee, I fell back into my more humor-themed costume groove, and for my first two years here, I dressed up at cat-themed Internet memes.

First, an LOLcat. (oh, that highlighted hair!)

Then, Keyboard Cat (see how I repurposed the prior year's cat costume? Always thinkin' cheap!)

Last year, I really hit my stride when I went as Kristen Wiig's character Judice from the "Lawrence Welk Show" sketch from SNL.

And this year?? Well, you'll just have to check back on Monday to see that.... But I'll tell you, I'm pretty excited about it - the most excited I've been about a costume in years!

I'm also incredibly excited for my first year handing out Trick or Treat candy! And not only is this my first time handing out candy for Trick or Treat, but it's my first night time Trick or Treat experience ever! Where I grew up, we always had daytime Trick or Treat hours on the Sunday leading up to Halloween. I can't wait to see the little kiddos from the neighborhood all dressed up in their costumes. While there probably won't be any carrots knocking on my door tonight, I'm sure there will be plenty of cute costumes to see.

You'd think with how much Eric and I love Halloween that our house would be all decked out for the holiday. Unfortunately, time (and inspiration) got away from us and our house is very scantly dressed up in Halloween decor. I know, I know, as a home decor blog, I probably should have had a few more DIY decorations around the house, but chalk it up to laziness this year. All I've done is thrown a few white pumpkins on our table,

painted a few pumpkins and set them outside,

and, of course, we carved pumpkins.

(Mine's the spooky cat, Eric's is the sinister face. P.S. It is HARD getting photos in the dark of Jack-o-Lanterns! They all turned out blurry, no matter how still I tried to be.)

So, no tombstones or ghosts hanging from our trees or anything like that, but at least we've got a little Halloween spirit around the house! 

Do you have Trick or Treat in the daytime or at night? Do you still dress up? What is your favorite costume of all time? Share in the comments and lets get this Halloween weekend kicked off right!


Your Weekly Pins

Another Friday, another week of pins! Here's what caught my eye on Pinterest this week...

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[What a pretty color combo! This is such a good example of different patterns working together beautifully.]

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[This cozy rug is just another reason why I should probably learn how to crochet in the near future...]

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[This butternut squash and black bean burrito looks AMAZING, and a delicious lunch on a fall day.]

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[This one is for those of you who are powerless to the salty-sweet taste combo. Salted caramel popcorn peanut bars?? I don't think it's possible to even fit any more deliciousness in there (except by adding chocolate chips, of course...)]

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[Surprise, surprise: gray and yellow! I adore that shirt, and it's a really pretty cardigan, as well. Finish it off with a skinny yellow belt and it's such a fun, polished look. Pretty all around!

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[And now for something not so polished. I couldn't help but pin this outfit; it looks so comfy! The circle scarf and bracelet additions should make you felt A-OK about wearing this out of the house.]

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[What a fun, unexpected take on Halloween decor! I only wish I'd seen these brightly-painted pumpkins sooner so I could've "borrowed" this idea and added them to our front door step!]

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[It's no secret that I love bunting, but I also love all the different ways you create it! There's more out there than triangle flags, people!]

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[I love this print! I love the muted colors and I love the message it's (I think?) trying to convey: Above every rain storm, the sun is still shining. (Corny? Maybe... but I still like it!). In fact, I just purchased it - stay tuned to see where it ends up in our house!]

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[This kitten has a bright future in musical theater - I mean, come on, look at those jazz hands!]

There are more pins where these came from! Follow me on Pinterest to see the whole lot!


Pumpkin mac 'n cheese

If you spend as much time as I do perusing food blogs, you're probably up to your ears in pumpkin recipes: pumpkin cupcakes, muffin, cookies, ice cream, whoopie pies.... the list goes on. Now, I'm not saying I'm not a fan of pumpkin-flavored goodies - I downed a pretty delicious pumpkin-cream-cheese muffin over the weekend and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since - but pumpkin is just such a versatile ingredient to work with; why just keep it for the sweet stuff?

Every year, a group of friends gather to celebrate "Friendsgiving" a week or so before actual Thanksgiving. Basically, it's just an excuse for everyone to bring a dish, stuff our faces and drink. It's one of my favorite days of the year, not only for the fun company, but also for the fact I get to dream up fun dishes to bring to the party. Last year, I made this pumpkin mac 'n cheese, which ended up being a huge hit. I'd been waiting all fall to make it again this year, and finally did so on Sunday night.

Not only is this version of mac 'n cheese thick, delicious and perfect for a crisp, fall evening - it's also relatively healthier than your average cheese-drenched noodle dish. It's a win-win!

Pumpkin Mac 'n Cheese
(adapted from Runner's Kitchen)

1 lb whole-wheat pasta
15 oz (1 can) pureed pumpkin
2 cups skim milk
6 oz. reduced-fat cheddar, cubed
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
4 T shredded parmesan
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 T panko bread crumbs
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9x13" glass pan with cooking spray and set aside. Cook your pasta following box directions, drain and set aside. In a large sauce pan, combine pumpkin and skim milk until simmering. Turn heat to low, then to the pumpkin-sauce add cheddar, cottage cheese and 2 Tb parmesan, Dijon mustard, salt, pumpkin-pie spice and pepper to taste -Stir until combined. Mix prepared pasta and cheese/pumpkin sauce and then pour into prepared pan. Mix bread crumbs, 2 Tb parmesan and olive oil in a small bowl, then sprinkle on top of mac 'n cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for an additional minute (or until top it golden and crunchy). 

Recipe serves eight people who don't eat enough mac 'n cheese, or 6 people who fills their bowls up.


Parents, Peaks & Pumpkins

Over the weekend, my parents finally came up to Milwaukee to see the house for the first time! I was excited for them to see it and hoped they'd love it just as much as Eric and I do. The good news is: they did! They had great things to say about our house and our neighborhood. I was definitely happy with their thumbs up on our new digs. 

Aside from hanging around the house, we had a weekend planned to enjoy one of the last beautiful weekends of fall. We woke up Saturday morning and took a little walk along the lakefront near home, then decided to try something none of us had done before: Check out the view from Holy Hill.

Holy Hill is an incredibly ornate Roman-Catholic shrine perched atop a large hill about 30 minutes northwest of Milwaukee. The average 300,000 visitors per year can climb up the 178 stairs to the top of the church's tower to take in breathtaking views of the Wisconsin countryside. On clear days, you can even see the skyline of Milwaukee - 30 miles away!

We couldn't have gone on a more beautiful day, and the inside was just as beautiful as the perfect weather outside.

After looking around inside (AND my very first spotting of an honest-to-goodness monk!), we decided to brave the tower to catch that phenomenal view from the top.

Even though we were a couple weeks late to catch peak fall coloring on all those trees, and it wasn't clear enough to easily see the Milwaukee skyline, the view was still fantastic. It was amazing to see so much open land all around. I couldn't believe I'd lived in the area for longer than three years and had never been up on Holy Hill!

On the way home, we stumbled upon something that may have been even more mesmerizing than the view from the top of Holy Hill's tower.


This might be the most awesome thing I have ever seen. Someone with an incredibly hilarious sense of humor is selling this boat, and decided to get in the holiday spirit and dress it up, skeleton beach party style. There was no way we could pass up something so spectacular without a proper photoshoot.
I kind of want to buy this boat just to support the fantastic people who came up with this idea.

After we recovered from the awesomeness of Skeleton Beach party, we grabbed some lunch on the way back to Milwaukee, stopped at home and rested for a bit, then went to dinner at the Organ Piper Pizza. I first went to the Organ Piper a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love with all the kitsch, glitz and fun. Every night of the week, an organist perches atop the mighty Wurlitzer and plays for all the guests as they chow down on thin-crust pizza. Across the restaurant are little percussion sections that aid to the organ music, like a gigantic xylophone hanging from the ceiling, a chime, a large drum and, my personal favorite, a line of ducks that each quack a different note. It's so incredibly corny and it's one of my favorite places in the Milwaukee area. I'm sorry I didn't take any photos - I just got a little too excited about my surroundings!

We stuffed our faces and enjoyed the music and then headed back to Bay View to catch the Pumpkin Pavilion. For the fourth year in a row, Humboldt Park in Bay View has offered this free, fun event where they display dozens and dozens of jack-o-lanterns carved by any member of the community who'd like to donate to the display. I love jack-o-lanterns, and seeing them all lit up at the same time is a super sun (and spooky!) sight. 

I love that the Pumpkin Pavilion gives kids the chance to display their pumpkin work to the entire community, but there were some really intricately-carved pumpkins on display, too. May favorite? This pretty leaf design.

 After the Pumpkin Pavilion, we went back home to hunker down and watch the World Series (Boo, Cardinals won that game) and the Wisconsin-Michigan State game (I'm an OSU fan, so no skin off my back, but Wisconsin lost in a heartbreaker at the last second... Eric was not pleased).

We packed a lot into the weekend, but mainly I was just excited to have my parents visiting and staying at our house. Living a couple of states away, I don't get to see them often, so this was a special treat having them on my own turf! Thankfully, I'll get to see them in just another month, at Thanksgiving, too! Sometimes you don't realize just how much you miss your family until just after they leave from a long visit.

 How do you entertain family/guests when they're visiting? Do you get to see your parents often?



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