pumpkin carving & other weekend highlights

Hello and happy Monday, everyone! My day started off in a very special way… I stopped by Target to pick up the Deluxe version of my girl’s new CD!!

t swift 1989 cd

I have been a fan of T.Swift since her country music “Tim McGraw” days. She was one of the {many} things Holly and I bonded over in college 🙂 Longtime blog readers might remember when we went to her concert in Nashville last year as the final stop on her RED tour! It was a blast.

red tour bus

I listened to the first six songs driving home from Target, and now I’m taking a little break before listening to the rest… I’m trying to savor it. Nothing like listening to new music from one of your favorite artists for the first time!

Look what else I found at Target: my favorite English muffins! These babies are seasonal, so I need to enjoy them while I can!

pumpkin spice english muffins

Pumpkin in the autumn is a total weakness of mine. I may have also been swayed to purchase some Tazo pumpkin chai tea and a box of pumpkin spice oatmeal. Is anyone else pumpkin-obsessed like I am?

Speaking of pumpkins… yesterday I went to Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch in San Francisco with Allyn and our friends Justin and Fawn. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and everyone in the city seemed in a great mood after the Giants’ win on Saturday night! {And they won again last night, too! Only one game away from clinching the World Series title!} We had a fun time wandering around the pumpkin patch, inspecting pumpkins and admiring the adorable, creative costumes worn by numerous little kids running around with their parents. We saw lots of Ninja Turtles, Elsas {from Frozen}, and Power Rangers — which made me happy, as I was a huuuuuge Power Rangers fan back in the day! Yellow Ranger all the way.

I did not take pictures of any of the little kids, as I did not want to be a creepazoid, but here are some photos I snapped of the patch!

pumpkin patch

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After the patch, we stopped by a picnic that one of Justin’s former coworkers was hosting in Alamo Park, right across from the famous Painted Ladies — the houses featured in the opening credits of Full House. I completely forgot to take pictures because I was too busy enjoying the conversation and noshing on a chocolate pastry that Allyn & I got at a farmer’s market on the way there.

But I did take lots of pictures of our pumpkin-carving once we made it back to Justin’s apartment! We did it old-school with knives and our imaginations. In the previous few years I’ve carved with a template, so this was a new adventure! Instead of a traditional Jack-o-Lantern or Halloween design, I decided to carve a cheerful sunflower. {I’m sure you are not surprised!}

sunflower pumpkin

Allyn made a googly-eyed face with a snazzy, slightly off-kilter mustache! Haha, the off-center mustache was driving Justin crazy, but I think it adds to the pumpkin’s charm!

allyn pumpkin

We had a LOT of pumpkin guts when we were done!

pumpkin guts

It was Fawn’s first time ever carving a pumpkin, and she did an amazing job! Her design was so intricate — all those little teeth! — but she carved it flawlessly. No toothpicks were needed in the creation of this Jack-O-Lantern!

Fawn's pumpkin

And here are Allyn & my pumpkins, all lit up:

lit up pumpkins

It was such a fun day!

The rest of the evening was spent doing work {schoolwork for Allyn, getting-caught-up-on-emails-etc for me} and chatting with Allyn’s roommates while making veggie & black bean tacos for dinner. All in all, a truly wonderful weekend!

Before I head out, I want to wish a heartfelt congratulations to our family friends Peter & Brooke, who got married yesterday! The wedding was down in L.A. and since I had to work on Saturday, I was unable to attend, but the rest of my family went and had an amazing time. I love this picture of them from the reception. So much love and joy for you both, Brooke & Peter!

peter and brooke wedding

Questions of the evening:

  • What was a highlight of your weekend?
  • Did you carve pumpkins this year?
  • Who are your favorite music artists?

favorite halloween costumes

Happy Thursday, everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful morning! My day today is pretty similar to yesterday: work on my novel this morning, do some editing work, and then teach this afternoon/evening. I don’t know about you, but for me this week is flying by!

Since we’re already halfway through October, I thought it would be fun to do a post about Halloween costumes! This year, Allyn and I are planning to dress up as Sebastian and the Little Mermaid. We’re not even sure what our Halloween plans are yet, but even if we’re just dressed up to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters, I’m still excited!

We found this crab hat for Allyn on Amazon. Paired with a red shirt, he’s set!

Though Allyn was joking that he should get this King Crab costume… if only it wasn’t so expensive! Too bad, haha.

I was excited to come across these inexpensive mermaid leggings. They’re comfortable, not too thin, and cute enough to maybe even wear again underneath a skirt for a unique going-out look.

I’m planning to pair them with a tankini top, and then I just need to find a red wig and I’ll be set!

Here are some of my favorite costumes from past Halloweens:

Last year I dressed up as Minnie Mouse, which is a super easy costume if you have a polka-dot dress. All you need to do is don some mouse ears and draw a nose on with eyeliner pencil. I didn’t have any Disneyland Mouse Ears, so I made some of my own by pinning a red bow to a pair of mouse ears I bought from one of those Halloween outlet stores.

minnie mouse

Another easy costume is a pirate. I did this one Halloween when I was in grad school. Wear a striped shirt, a vest, and a pirate hat, and you’re golden! If you want to jazz it up you can add a hooked hand, a sword, or a stuffed animal parrot on your shoulder!

Halloween costume

In college, my roommates and I had fun coming up with linked costumes. One year, my friend Jess was a pirate and I wore a gold dress and was her pirate’s treasure! I think this would be a really cute couples costume 🙂

college halloween 2

The group photo of us below is a little far away, but I couldn’t resist sharing it because of the kids’ crazy expressions in the foreground! This was when we took my friend Celine’s little brother trick-or-treating.

college halloween

Ha! Those kids are seriously hyped up on candy.

Another easy costume is a cowboy or cowgirl. When I was in college and studied abroad in England for a semester, there were themed dances nearly every week — and the British students got REALLY into dressing up! It was a blast. Whenever I didn’t know what to dress up as, a cowgirl was a super easy option. Just throw on some comfortable jeans, a plaid shirt, a cowboy hat, and boots! Here’s a photo circa 2007 of me dressed as a cowgirl with my friend Jamie dressed as a {very convincing!} vampire.

cowboy and dracula

When I was growing up, my favorite costumes were homemade. I have a fond memory of spending lots of time with my dad painting cardboard wings rainbow colors one year when I dressed up as a butterfly. Another year I went as a sunflower {are you surprised? lol} and made a sunflower out of yellow poster board. I cut out a circle in the middle and stuck my face through it, so the petals encircled me and my face was the center, and then I wore green leggings and a green shirt. I remember getting lots of compliments on that costume when I went trick-or-treating!

If you have costumes lying around that you’re not planning to wear again, especially children’s costumes, consider donating them to Goodwill for others to wear. Also, here is a neat nonprofit I recently heard about that donates costumes to kids in need: Ween Dream.

Questions of the morning:

  • Are you dressing up for Halloween this year?
  • What are your favorite costumes from past Halloweens?
  • If you have kids, what are they dressing up as?

bruce bruce, homemade beignets, pumpkins galore & other weekend highlights

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was absolutely lovely and I couldn’t resist sharing some photos… I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post!

Saturday morning I slept in a little and relaxed, reading a couple short stories while sipping on a mug of chai tea and noshing on a bowl of cinnamon oatmeal. Then I baked a batch of 3-ingredient banana cookies. Then I got ready to go teach a bunch of energetic kiddos for five hours!

Then I taught for five hours!

Then I was exhausted.

But I quickly perked up because I was meeting my sweetheart for dinner 🙂 We went to Tommy T’s, a comedy steakhouse — it was the first time there for both of us and we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but the food was tasty and the whole place was packed! Definitely a popular venue. The headline comedian was Bruce Bruce, who I had never before heard of but who seemed quite well-known among most of the audience.

I was a bit disappointed because he talked SO fast that I had a tough time hearing/ understanding what he was saying! The jokes I did catch I thought were humorous, and it was clear that his quick-talking was purposeful — it was part of his whole vibe. Maybe if I heard him perform more often and had a better sense of his speech rhythms, I would have been able to understand more of what he said. But in any case, it was still a fun night and I was really glad we went!

Sunday morning, Allyn and I tried our hands at making beignets! They’re the French-style dessert that we loved at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Before he left NOLA, Allyn picked up a box of beignet mix and yesterday we decided to finally put ourselves to the test!

beignet mix

I’ll be honest: at first, I was quite certain they were going to be a disaster. The dough was super sticky and I was having a ridiculously difficult time rolling it out. I used a water glass because we didn’t have a rolling pin!

rolling pin water glass

Lots and lots of flour ended up being the secret weapon. Once the dough was rolled out thin enough, we cut it into small squares and placed them carefully in the frying basket. By the time they reached the frying basket, they usually looked more like distended blobs of dough than squares, but no matter. We pressed on!

beignet dough

making beignets

Then Allyn, who earned the name Mr. Pro Fryer, dropped the basket into the hot oil and … I was amazed! The blobs of dough actually looked like little beignets! Not as pretty as the ones at Cafe du Monde, but still respectable.

frying beignets

little beignets

We topped them with powdered sugar and they were delicious! Eating a Sunday brunch of beignets and fruit salad out on the patio felt super luxurious. Sometimes my Sundays start out way too fast, with me rushing off to church or tutoring commitments. When possible, I want to start waking up early enough to savor a slow Sunday morning breakfast.

beignets breakfast

Church was lovely yesterday. I was honored to do the chalice lighting {a symbol of our religious faith at the beginning of the service} and I read aloud these beautiful words by Joy Harjo:

joy harjo quote

After church, I met up with Dana for a catch-up coffee date, and we also stopped by this super-cute local nursery that was all decked out for Halloween! It was a really warm day yesterday, so the weather felt like summer, but the place definitely felt like autumn. I really love autumn decorations and Dana does too, so we had a great time admiring all the details.

Dana pumpkin patch

me pumpkin patch

pumpkins

sunflower

spider

halloween

There were baby goats, too!

baby goats

I was swooning over these beautiful hand-painted sunflower tiles. I told Dana that one day I want to buy one of these and hang it in my kitchen!

sunflower tiles

My Sunday ended with family dinner, where my Uncle Arn serenaded us with Steely Dan hits on his new electric drum set and my gorgeous cousin Arianna did a fashion show of her beautiful Homecoming dress and accessorizing options. Then I watched The Good Wife with my grandma, read a little of After Dakota, and collapsed into bed. A perfect day!