Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I think it's fair to say I'm a bit batty for Halloween. See all previous Halloween obsessed posts for evidence! Like my refusal to throw out extra candy, and the lengths I'll go to dress up my husband.

Between the costumes, the spooky decorating, and the baking of sticky treats, it is just one more reason to throw a party and that's right up my alley, folks. I'll throw a party any chance I get. Our 3rd Annual Halloween Boobie Group Bash (working title:)) was more fun than the last, thanks to a seriously improved effort in the costume area, and some deliciously wicked treats.

I started our hoo-rah by decking out the back yard, complete with a haunted playhouse, a wicked witch under our shed, and a hanging giant ghost. Inside was pretty standard, bats, pumpkins, ravens and the like, but I got a bit of inspiration in the bathroom. I figure if every other space gets decor, why leave out the room every guest is guaranteed to visit? I got a little crafty with some games and a craft project for the kiddos, including a "Feed Jack" ball game, and a Monster Making Station. In the end though, all they did was play in the sand and run. And run, and run some more.

Oh, and there was ample eatin' and drinkin' to be had, obviously, including Poison Apple Cupcakes, Death by Chocolate brownies, and lots of Sam Adams Oktoberfest. We had to keep a bit of the German spirit flowing! but I'm going to do a recipe post separately. No need to overload you too much! And on that note, I will slightly overload you with some photo-rific highlights. Because why not...
Bugs in the soap, mummified TP, and mirror disguises!
This one is Silhouette Studio Design ID #28579 cut into black vinyl.
I used haybales for kiddie chairs and covered the tables in kraft paper and Halloween coloring pages.
A brown grocery bag tucked into the strings on each bale kept the kids' tushies from getting too dirty.

A new bag of sand and a bunch of plastic spiders and snakes went into the sand box,
which is where Jude played literally all day long. 

R is a bit confused about the witch. She keeps looking for the rest of her.
You're supposed to roll balls into his mouth, but Jude is racing cars through instead now!

I'll get back at ya' with the recipes for the sweets, some printable templates and a little crafty DIY! 
What are your plans for Halloween?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Stock up!

I have six pregnant friends. Two days ago I had eight pregnant friends. Now I have six pregnant friends and two friends with newborns and toddlers at home. It's crazy. We have all officially entered that stage where everyone is married and has a baby and the number 2's are making their arrivals. Suddenly everyone is being delivered on the doorsteps of pre-schools and pediatricians with double strollers, balancing changing naptimes, potty training, pumping, nausea, nursing, and on and on into mommyhood eternity. Luckily we have each other.

My badass mama crew rocks. I literally had zero New Jersey friends until Jude was born and I started taking him to the nursing support group run by our hospital. Then the stars aligned and Booby Group was born. It's been two and a half years, and now we get to welcome the second round to our team of all-stars.

There are plenty of ways to make the transition a little easier, and food is the best. If you have an expecting friend, check out Meal Train, a site that helps you organize daily drop offs of dinner for the first week your pal is home with bitty baby. You can see what everyone is bringing so the family doesn't eat 5 nights of baked penne. It's pretty genius and I wish we had actually had someone to do it for us when Jude was born! Thanks, Becky, for finding it for us all! Once the meal train ends, mama and papa will likely need to occasionally put a meal together for their damned selves, and that's where the stock up party comes in.

A Freezer Meal Stock up Party is a quick and dirty way to make sure your freezer (and the freezers of 3 pals) is  good to go with easy meals for when you are in a pinch. For a family with a toddler and two week old, that's pretty much every day. A few weeks ago we had a mini Stock Up for my pal L and her hubs just before her little guy was born this week. This weekend I did it again with three new friends. It went faster and smoother thanks to my OCD planning skillz. We made lasagna primavera, white bean chili, and two crock pot chicken dishes. Everyone went home with 8 meals, and all for $40 each.

Wanna host a Stock Up? You know you do! I have added the files for each of the recipes we made, a shopping list, and the sticker labels for your meals below. Just click to download and print! Then invite three friends over for a two hour prep session. You can divide up the shopping if you wish, but I did it in one big trip to BJ's. Buying so much food (especially the chicken) in bulk helped to keep down the cost. All your pals need to bring is a cooler or box to bring home the food! Here's the lowdown on my set up:

Before the crew came over I set up stations for each meal. A cutting board, chef's knife, apron, a copy of their meal's recipe, and all of the ingredients for each bag. I ended up putting a garbage can under the table to keep it easy, but you can do individual garbage bowls if your space is big enough! I took care of the chili, so that station's ingredients went next to the stove. Since the chicken packages from BJ's are so huge, I ended up splitting all the chicken up into bags beforehand just so I could fit everything into the fridge.

Upon arrival, all kids and dads are banned from the kitchen (unless your dads are doing the prepping, than peace out moms). No one wants raw chicken juice and toddler fingers getting involved in a play-date. The preppers pick a station, grab an apron, and start their prep. The two chicken dishes are basically just assembly, so they go fastest. Once the chili is simmering, you can make the bechamel for the lasagna, clear the chicken prep from the table, and lay out your lasagna pans assembly line style. It all takes about an hour and a half, more if you are drinking, less if you are Hung from Top Chef.

I like to have one hot dish, so that once you finish all the work, you have a meal ready to eat at the end of your party. Every one of us had chili for supper, and it's awesome chili, let me tell you. (It's even better with a spoonful of this amazing chimichurri made by my friend Erika on top!) So with a full belly, a cooler full of meals, and a chance to get some gossip out, you're Stock Up will leave every expectant mama ready to rock when the new bambino arrives, and the new mama of number two will be able to better balance her hectic days.

Have any questions? Hit me up in the comments.

Download the Printable Labels - Page 1
Page 2
Shopping List

As always, you can find more recipe ideas and tips all over Pinterest, so here are a few of my faves:
Chef Tess Bakeresse - This has a few great recipe and party ideas!
Little Runner Girl - Includes ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes!