A very spooky Halloween.

Happy (early) Halloween, my friends! Adrian and I hosted what may become our annual Halloween get-together last night. We hosted this last year and had such a good time with it, we decided to do it again this year...but with a twist! My pre-marriage roommate, Jenny, and her now-husband Ben both celebrated birthdays this month. With Jenny working and in grad school and interning, a birthday party just wasn't happening. She had mentioned one day how she had been wanting to get our friends together to carve pumpkins and hang out but she didn't have the time or energy to do.

So we did it for her!

This was the main food table set up in the kitchen. With the lights out, it was oh-so-spooky. If you've been holding your breath for the full Spooky banner reveal, exhale cause here it is. 
I stacked the cupcakes and the Happy Halloween Sign (also seen previously on the blog) on Harry Potter books. Thank you Halloween for providing a justification for displaying Harry Potter books.
Note: take photos before gathering begins. You know, before you just start tossing CVS bags around.

These adorable little banners came from Michaels. 
We saved two cupcakes with candles to sing Happy Birthday and make a wish on.

I made these labels on my computer, printed them and stuck them on the cups. 
With the black straws and Halloween umbrellas, the drinks looked positively festive.

In the hutch, Adrian set up the Trick or Treat station because I don't care how old you are, 
you are never too old for trick-or-treating
(Lyd, my mom, did not allow us to trick or treat past age 12. Rebellion is mine!)
The station included lots of candy, vampire teeth, Halloween themed hand sanitizer (weird, I know! but too adorable to pass up. Plus, who likes germs??), and squeeze-out-your-stress monsters.
These were the bags available for people to trick-or-treat with. I bought little (3"x6") paper bags at Michaels and sent them through my printer. They turned out better than I had even imagined. 
I will be doing this for every event from here on it. It was that amazing.
 Now this I cannot take credit for. I originally saw it on good old pinterest, but I just didn't have the time to tackle it with everything else. In a pre-festivity e-mail, I sent out the link and jokingly requested that anyone with free time should probably make these. Crickets. Yesterday afternoon, my creative and talented friend Jen sent me a text to see if anyone had already offered to make it. Obviously they hadn't. So she did. And it was amazing! 
I can't imagine how much time it took her to carve the little faces, oh but the end product? Phenomenal.
So thank you, Jen! 

And lastly, a shot of my decorated dresser in the living room. Super spooky, right?

We spent the evening catching up with people, laughing and just enjoying everyone's company. 
We even rolled up the carpet, laid down a plastic table cover and 
carved pumpkins in the middle of the living room floor. 
It was wonderful.

Happy Halloween! 

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Keep it together.

Hi, old friends. I remember you. And I've thought of you. And I've wanted to write. I have. But words were few and tears were many. So I didn't write.

But now I think I'm ready.

We, being Adrian and I, have been making some difficult decisions lately. Restructuring. Making a budget and sticking to it. Gasp. And then blowing it. Then getting back on the band wagon. We've been prioritizing. Talking about the future and where we want to be versus where we may be. And making hard decisions based on whatever facts we have.

Sorry to be so vague but I must. One day this will all become more clear and you'll understand why I had to be so clouded for so long.

Regardless, it's been stressful. Anyone who knows me knows that a stressed Emily is hardly an Emily at all. Out the door fly the easy smiles and quick laughs. Replaced by even quicker tears and bouts of anxiety.

Which leads me to now. Sunday. I'm determined to have a better week than the week gone by. So brainstorm with me, no?

How to keep it together and remain more yourself:

1) Breathe. Seriously.That's key.
2) Buy shoes. I kid. I kid. Kind of. It's hard not to feel better about life with a nice pair of shoes on.

3) Focus on what can be done today. Probably because I don't keep actual to-do lists so I have a continually running to-do list in my head, which may cover anything and everything I have to do today as well as for the next 10-15 years. New goal: Keep a daily to-do list. And tackle that which can be completed today.  Oh yes, and be awesome.

4) Sleep enough. Which for me means no less than 8 hours a night. Adrian can get by on less but I just can't. When I was little and I would get upset, my mom would tell me to go lay down. And I would be so angry. But she was right. Sometimes I just need to sleep. And then the world is instantly better.

5) Eat better. The question: Can I do it? I love sugar and I'm a non-eater when I get stressed. Both bad things.

6) Enjoy the small moments and joys. I love Halloween. I love fall. I love the little joys of the season. I have to take short little breaks in the day to enjoy the small things. Things like read Harry Potter. Make something with my hands. Bake. Read with my nephews. Hug my husband. Because those little things, they make me feel like me.

7) Keep a clean house. Everything seems better when my apartment is clean and organized. When it's not, I'm constantly reminded of how I'm falling behind. I hate that feeling.

I had an awesome ending planned here, but blogger doesn't like it. Thanks blogger.

Maybe it will like it tomorrow. Until then.
*All pictures found via pinterest. Click pictures for links.

The Rio party.

So just as I promised, I have the photos from my nephew's 10th birthday! Being that his family isn't particularly interested in party planning, this was his first theme party and it went wonderfully. He and his friends played games, won prizes, watched Rio outside on the projector and enjoyed snacks.
This was the main table. After watching the movie Rio, which is one of Jerry's favorite movies, we came up with the idea to make the table look like a Brazilian marketplace. So Adrian and I built the awning using teal and white chevron fabric. Adrian also built the boxes on the right out of wood and then painted them white. We used striped wrapping paper from Target to cover the table. And lastly, we spray painted a bird cage we had to match the color scheme (Caribbean blue, red, yellow and orange). The above table looks a bit empty because the cake had not arrived when the photo was taken. It was placed front and center upon arrival.
Though a little hard to see, the boxes Adrian built looked like the boxes fruit is sold in. A bit crooked, but adorable! The plush toys from the movie were given away as prizes for the winners of the games. 
The popcorn and candy were set out for kids to take to eat during the movie. Miraculously, the snacks actually stayed in place until the movie started! Seriously, a miracle. I created the labels on the bags of candy and popcorn, again to match the color scheme and to personalize it a bit more.

Adrian and I hung a hoola-hoop from the top center of the inside of the canopy. From the hoola-hoop, we attached streamers that connected to the inside poles of the canopy, so they hung along the top inside of the canopy. (Does the even make sense??) Best idea ever. It added so much color to an otherwise blank canvas. Best of all, they didn't hang down which meant no children pulling on them.
Thanks to the power of ebay, I was able to find Blu, the main character of the movie. 
We placed him in a cage and I cut the word "Rio" using my cricut. 
At the end of the night, Jerry took Blu home with him.
I made this using an image I found via google. I added in the text. Jerry loved it and asked to keep it. I'm pretty sure every kid loves to see their name on just about anything.

Lastly, the cupcakes. Adrian and I baked these from scratch. The cake was blue, yellow and red and the frosting was lemon. And they were soooooo good. I made the flags on the computer, then printed them and cut them.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the party as much as we enjoyed throwing it. Although, in honor of full disclosure, I will say I am much more in favor of adult parties. At least among my friends, I need only worry about the set-up and decorating. With children? Set-up, decorating, and crowd control. Tears may have been involved. And not on my end. Child egos are delicate.

Lesson learned. Adult parties from here on out! Ohhh, but I can't resist a decent theme party.
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A plaid Halloween bat.

Adrian and I are putting finishing touches on his nephew's Rio birthday party tomorrow! I'm so excited to see how this will all turn out. And, most importantly, to see his nephew's face when he walks in! He knows he's having a birthday party but he knows nothing about the theme or any details. Adrian's family isn't very into party planning, so this will be Gerry's first party with a theme and decorations and everything. So we're really excited to show this little guy some love and to make him feel incredibly special. So check back in later this weekend for pictures from the party!

While I'm not planning birthday parties, I've been decorating the house and getting ready for Halloween. I made this little Halloween sign which I printed and put in a frame in the living room.
I'm especially pleased with the plaid bat. Yes, every Halloween ought to include a plaid bat. Preferably, a plaid bat swiping the letter A. Perfect.

I also made a little "Spooky" banner. Once I figure out where to hang it in the house, I'll post a picture of the whole thing. For now, I tease with you just the first letter:
To make the banner, I tore pages out of Harry Potter. <<gasp!>> I know. Don't let children see you do this. I made that mistake. My 5 year old nephew was horrified that I was tearing pages from a book. However, I bought this copy at a used book store for $1. No worries, friends. I still have my whole collection intact on my bookshelf.

So yes, I tore pages out. Then ran them through my cricut to cut them into this shape. I then downloaded the Harry Potter font and had my cricut cut out the letters for Spooky. (I know, cricut, cricut, cricut. Lame.) Glued each letter on to separate pages. Then with an x-acto knife, I cut slits and ran an orange ribbon through it. So good. 

Alright, if you're interested in getting a copy of the Halloween printable, send me a quick e-mail and I'll mail you the PDF. Mostly cause I don't know how to make a link to download....gotta figure that out.

Enjoy your Thursday!
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Thankfully fall.

We're in full fall mode here in Chicago and more specifically in my house. And it has been wonderful. Thanks to my google-aided discovery of in-house apple cider, many nights have been passed on the couch with a warm drink, a cozy blanket, and that guy I like/love.

A few things have been going on that have made me quite thankful for this little life I live so I thought, if you don't mind, I'd share them with you. That way maybe you'll find some things that make you a little thankful, too. Shall we?

1. Adrian likes to leave me notes on the mirror every morning before he leaves for work. Since he leaves before I even wake up, it's lovely to find a piece of him as I start my day. Plus it makes each day like Christmas. He generally writes something along the lines of "I love you. Have a good day" but there's always a little twist. Like the "O" in love turned into a dancing heart man. And the best part? When I take incredibly hot showers, all the ghosts of letters past appear in the fog. One of these days though, the windex will have to lay them to rest once and for all.

2. I listened to my iPod (key word being my, not Adrian's...no offense, friend!) all afternoon yesterday as I cleaned and reorganized and started a home organization binder. Ohhh it was lovely. It was relaxing and it was me. I didn't have to skip any songs or negotiate. While Adrian and I can agree on some bands (namely Santana, ManĂ¡, U2, and the No Doubt station on Pandora), we differ on the vast majority. He leans towards classic rock whereas I prefer something a bit more mellow and not so want-to-thrash-around. So an entire afternoon of Ray Lamontagne and Alexi Murdoch and Matt Wertz and Norah Jones and Missy Higgins. Oh, lovely.

3. Party planning. My old roomie, Jenny, says I should just give up the teacher gig and start party planning full-time. While I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future, I do love to plan a good party. We're currently experiencing all-out insanity trying to pull together a "Rio" party for Adrian's nephew. Good luck finding a Rio plush toy without forking over your credit card number and praying to the gods of ebay that your identity isn't stolen. Yeah, we're praying. (Bt-dub, party's this coming weekend. Pics to follow!)

4. I'm really enjoying teaching. I have finally figured out that despite the fact that almost all of my students are older than me, I am in fact the authority figure in the room. And while I have always done a decent job, I think, of inspiring learning, I did a horrible job of enforcing any sort of policy. This year is different. I set out from the beginning letting my students know that I am not out to be their friends, which is difficult when many are my same age. I am their teacher. Meaning I'm not terribly concerned with popularity. I am, however, concerned with their learning English. In the past, students have waltzed in up to an hour late for class, which is ridiculous in a two-hour class. This year, the door closes ten minutes after class begins, no exceptions. And luckily, I haven't been confronted with the issue. Every student has arrived in the pre-set time frame. Which is like an adult ESL miracle. Truly. Similarly, homework has been completed consistently and attendance has been phenomenal. My best year yet....thusfar. With the absence of grades, sometimes it can be difficult to motivate students. But I have learned that because my students are adults, they ought to be self-motivated. And they are. So rather than dangling tests, homework checks and meaningless grades before them, we continually remind ourselves of why we study in the first place. To help children with homework. To communicate with the doctor. To get what is needed in a store. To be confident in a country that is not yet home.

This year, I've gone a different route with my role as a teacher. And it has gone swimmingly. Now ask me again next June what I think. Hehe.

5. I'm on vacation. And in just a few days I will be hanging out with my family. That's enough to make any October wonderful!

Can we maybe start a discussion? What has made your fall wonderful? What small joys are you finding? Please do tell me.

*picture found via pinterest. Click photo for link.
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