Easy Halloween Party

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I love Halloween.

Love it.

It is by far my favorite holiday. I think it's because I also love fall and just can't wait to get into the holiday season. Crisp air, wearing sweaters, football and Halloween. Ahhhhh, this girl is happy.

My six year old shares my love of Halloween. This year he wanted to have a Halloween party for a few friends. Of course, as with everything I do, this quickly escalated to around 25 kids. Of course. I failed to meet his 1980's Double Dare-esqe obstacle course expectations, but he said we could still try that for next year. Next year? Meaning: total success :)



I held the party in my garage to two reasons. 

1. I had to clean it out anyway. 

2. I didn't want sticky kids inside my house for 2 hours. 

Call me crazy. 

I started decorating by hot gluing some black kraft paper ($0.15 a foot at my local office supply store, costing me about 7$ for the entire wall) to the inside of my garage door. It was easily done with the help of my extra tall and patient husband. Next, I strung cobwebs all across the paper. This was about half a bag from the dollar store. 



I used some thin wire to hang this frame from the top of the garage door. Then hung it over this haunted house print from Caravan Shoppe



 Have you ever used Caravan Shoppe for holiday decorating? They are absolutely the best. I purchased the "Drawn Together" pack for the party. It was $8.00 and the file came with everything I needed to print out on my own. My local office supply (not Staples, I am VERY small town and my local store did them easily, so call around if you don't have a big box store!) printed these out 38"x46" and I just hot glued them to the black paper. 


I used these coloring pages (part of the package) and  put them on the table for decoration. Have you every tried to take pictures at a party, while wrangling 25 kids ages 3-8? Well, just picture this table with some candy corn and a bingo game in process, because that picture didn't get taken :)


The kids enjoyed coloring this after the party. So did I. 


I used this adorable Bingo game I printed from Artsy Fartsy Mama. I was free! Also, colorful and very cute. I printed on card stock to save for next year!


I stapled alternating crepe paper to the ceiling and then twisted down…..



stapling it to the back of my long tables. This was cute and 
semi-hid things hanging on my garage walls 



If you don't have a creepy halloween skeleton, just borrow one from 
the high school anatomy class. The kids won't know the difference!


We had a variety of games to play including bingo, bobbing for apples, pumpkin bowling, donut eating contest and pin the bow tie on the skeleton.  




We also had some spooky treated including these Jello worms from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Follow the recipe exactly and these were an easy, scary, VERY life like treat that both grossed out and amazed!


We finished by decorating sugar cookies and drinking bubbling witches brew. I will add more pictures when they come back from my mommy photographer who was there for crowd control and documentation! This party was fun for the kids and also very inexpensive! I'd call that a success!


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

xoxo 
Tracy 






The Best Gift

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm going to tell you a little something about myself.

I love pictures. 

Like, a lot.  I'd almost say I love pictures as much as The Alison Show loves planning parties.  For our anniversary, Paul gave me family pictures.  This is kind of a big deal because as much as I love pictures, he dislikes them even more.  I'm in love with Corissa's style, and she got us in before the leaves started changing (call me crazy, but I wanted green!). 

We just got them back and I am over the moon.  Heart eyes for days.  



















My heart just melts into a little puddle.  And I want to wallpaper my house with our pictures.  




xoxo

Mandy



Find us on instagram @epicincblog.  


The Best Sloppy Joe You'll Ever Eat

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I kid you not.  This is the be-all and end-all of sloppy joe recipes.  It came from Jess Kotter, and Grandma calls it barbeque.  Grandma used to make it all the time for family get-togethers.  Whenever I smell it, I think of sitting at her old wooden table eating this sandwich with potato chips on a vintage Corel plate, listening to a recording of her playing the Beer Belly Polka on her accordion.

I love it because it is as delicious fresh as it is frozen and reheated.  You can't say that about many recipes.  So call it barbeque or sloppy joes, you really need to try this recipe ASAP.


You'll need :
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups ketchup
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/3 cup water
3 TBS brown sugar
3 TBS mustard
3 TBS vinegar
3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
16 to 20 hamburger buns

1. In a large skillet cook ground beef, onion and garlic until meat is brown and the onion is tender.  Drain off fat.
2. In  a 3 1/2 to 4 qt. slow cooker combine all other ingredients and stir in the meat
3. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high setting for 3 to 4 hours

If you don't want to use the crock pot, add green pepper, celery & water to the drained meat and simmer until tender.  Add rest of ingredients and simmer for several minutes. Stir frequently. 


Enjoy!  


xoxo

Mandy

Join us on Instagram @epicincblog.  It's a million thrills a minute.  

The Email Game

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Guys.  My email.  *shakes head*

I had 196 emails sitting in my inbox and everyday I ignored them, they grew more. I've been avoiding it because I just didn't feel like sifting through the junk to get to the real stuff from people I actually know...anyway, I'd like to introduce you to The Email Game!


*The friendly folks at Baydin who created the Email Game have no idea who I am.  I just really love this service and I wanted to share it with you.*  

It's free and it works with Gmail and google apps.  If you don't have Gmail, well...it's probably time to make the switch.

I love the Email Game. My emails grew from 196 to 247 in the couple of days I ignored my inbox, but I was able to cull through all of them in 15 minutes, and it would've been even faster if I hadn't gotten distracted half way through. 

Even better?  You don't have to create an account with them.  Even better than that?  It really is a game with a timer and points based on how fast you go through your messages.  

I think I was introduced to the Email Game from Kristen Kalp over at Brand Camp, back when she was helping me with my photography business (you should go take a peek at her website.  She's phenomenal for small business owners!).  I've been using the Email Game for a couple years now, and it keeps me from pulling my hair out over the sheer number of emails that can accumulate in my inbox.  

My biggest tip?  Unsubscribe!  If you find that you never really read the emails from XYZ that you signed up for a year ago, let it go.  You have enough going on in your life as it is.  

Give it a try, and let me know if you like it. 

xoxo

Mandy



Join us on Instagram @epicincblog.  It's a million thrills a minute.  

3 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity While Potty Training Your Toddler

Monday, September 1, 2014

Oh my heavens.  I don't like potty training.  I don't like it at all.  We're actually just coming through on the other side with Max, and I honestly don't even know how long we've been at it.   All those Pinterest posts that promise your child can be potty trained in a weekend?  Lies.  At least for us.  I'd say Max has been potty trained during the day for probably 5 months, but staying dry through the night has just clicked in the past month or so.  Which means laundry for days and days.

I finally figured out a system that requires less laundry most of the time and I feel like banging my face on the washing machine for not having figured it out sooner.  If I would've known these things when I started potty training rather than at the end of potty training, I'm 80% sure there would've been fewer swear words.  Without further ado:




Plastic pants + training underwear = significantly less pee everywhere.  Max wigged out when I first put the plastic pants on him, but guess what?  I'm the mom and I'm bigger than he is.  Somehow I convinced him to keep them on.  Added bonus, not having to wear them anymore is an extra incentive to stay dry through the night.  It did take a couple of times for me to realize that although Max had stayed dry, the underwear was still damp because he's a sweaty little boy and that plastic is not breathable.  So before you heave another disappointed sigh, make sure you figure out why the underwear is damp and maybe you can celebrate instead.

I didn't start doing this until probably a month ago and I wish I had been doing it all along.  I don't know what I was thinking...I'm pretty sure this is the first thing most people put their kids in when potty training, unless you're me.  *facepalm*





I know.  This may seem a bit much, but let me explain.  The waterproof zipper pillow case keeps the pillow dry.  The cotton zipper pillow case makes the vinyl a little less crinkly sounding when your kid lays their head down and if you put the zipper side into the pillowcase first, they don't realize it can come off (unless they take the pillowcase completely off).

My washing machine is basically the size of a thimble, so washing Max's pillow on a regular basis was out of the question.  Even if you're washing three pillowcases, they still take up significantly less room in the washer than a pillow.

If you're diligent about tip #1, you may be able to disregard tip #2.





Let me preface this tip by saying how much I loathe removing the fitted sheet and the mattress protector, washing them, and then putting them back on.  It drove me insane.  I don't know why, but it did.  That's why I used a waterproof crib pad and a flat sheet in addition to the fitted sheet and the mattress protector.  That way, I only had to rip off the top two layers (which took two seconds) and throw those in the wash AND his mattress was still protected in case he slept on it before I had made it up again.

There are also nights where Max decides to sleep on the other end of his bed, which doesn't have a crib pad on it.  It is still covered by the mattress protector though, so not a big deal (except that then I have to strip the entire bed and wash it...).


There you have it.  What's worked for you when potty training?



Join us on Instagram @epicincblog.  It's a million thrills a minute.  

Hanging a Gallery Wall the Easy Way

Friday, August 8, 2014

Isn't Mandy's gallery wall so great? I love her collection of prints. Today, it's my turn to show you my gallery wall and how I put mine together.

Also, be sure to get all the way to the end of the post for info on a fun giveaway!


Let me first say that my wall is filled with things collected over time. A long time. Not that it has to be that way, I just collected things to put up, but was to scared to pull the trigger. I mean, hanging it seemed daunting, and what if I didn't like it….the nail holes. Oh, the nail holes.  I'm super  non-comittal. I hate using nails to hang things, because I like to change things quite often.  Scary. Until I read a tutorial on HouseTweaking about how she uses 3M Command strips to hang her pictures. I decided it was time to get.it.on.

HouseTweaking gives a great tutorial (linked above) but I will give you a quick run down.

Once you have your 3M command strips, cut to size if your frame is small, or use an entire piece if you need. You will need two of the same size ( a pair) to hang a frame, sometimes more depending on weight.




Second, take the side without the pull tab and press it onto the frame. This frame was super light so I just put one right in the middle. You need to put it where it will have full contact with the wall. 


Next, press the piece with a pull tab onto the piece on the frame. Press the velcro into each other so they are secure.


When you are ready to hang, remove the protective paper and press your frame against the wall in the desired location. If you want to move the frame, you just pull the frame off the wall, then pull the tab on the piece stuck to the wall the release the sticky part with no damage! I will never use ANYTHING else.

Okay, let's get to the good stuff. I apologize for my pictures on this post. They just aren't as clear as I wanted them to be. I need to get it figured out! Now, let me tell you about some of the pieces on my wall.



I'm not hiding the fact that I am obsessed with GOLD lately. I mean, I think I've gone off the deep end. I was reading King Midas and the Golden Touch to my 6 year old and he said, "Mom, you totally want that. You wouldn't ever have to spray paint." Point taken, pal.

The gold frame in the center is from the D.I. I'll cross my fingers that you get lucky and find one like this. They are hard to come by, but can be found!


This little baby was found at the DI in the collectibles section. $3.00. Someday, I will take it to the Antiques Road Show. Or Cash4Gold. I'm sure it's not worth anything, but kids think its cool. 


Along with loving gold, I tend to hoard. You are learning a lot about me in this post! Now you know all my secrets. I have had the keys on this wall since I was first married. I bought them at an antique store and knew I would find a space for them. Turns out it only took me 11 years. Wow. I did hang these with nail, while breathing into a paper bag. 



The white frames in my gallery wall are from IKEA, Target and Walmart. I started hunting for anything that had a white frame and white mat. I wanted it to look put together but not have them all be the exact same frame. This gold frame is from IKEA, originally white, I got my spray paint out and it turned out really smooth.



Now, for my favorite piece on the wall. Mandy actually made this print for all the girls in our family. It is so fitting for me. I swear my kids will put the work "HUSTLE" on my grave stone. It's my WORD, man.



We are giving away 2 digital downloads of this custom HUSTLE print. 

Just comment on this blog post telling us a little about yourself! Anything really! Include your email so that we can contact you when you win!!

We are also giving one away on Instagram, so if you want to follow us there we are @epicincblog.


xoxo 
Tracy 


Gallery Wall: A "How To" Guide

Monday, August 4, 2014


I've always loved a good gallery wall.  I think it's an excellent way to display all the pretty things.  My favorite? Mixing objects with framed pictures.  I started collecting frames from the thrift store a couple years ago, and I slowly amassed a pretty good size collection.  Mine range in size from 5x7 to 11x14, and it's turned out to be a pretty good mix.

I have this ridiculously long wall in my living room, so I wanted my gallery wall to gently arc above the TV and span the majority of the wall.  I started by laying out all the frames on the floor.  Then, I arranged and rearranged.  Then I'd walk away, and come back a little later and rearrange again.  Add two frames and remove one.  Add the clock, then move it.  This was probably the hardest part for me -- figuring out the arrangement.  There's something that seems so permanent about putting a hole in the wall...when in reality its not that difficult to patch up.  Unless you have wallpaper.  But who even has wall paper?  Oh wait, I do.  Have I mentioned we're renting?  Just know this wallpaper is not my choice.  Nor the "fields of grain" wallpaper in my kitchen...however that's a different story for another day.

lay your frames out on the floor

After I settled on my arrangement, I actually numbered the glass in the frames with a dry erase marker because I knew I'd be hanging my frames over a day or two and I didn't want them to get mixed up.  In the end, this wasn't particularly helpful -- I took a picture of my final arrangement, then carefully stacked the frames in order.  I used the picture to lay out my frames again, once I was ready to hang them.  

epic inc blog hanging gallery wall

Next up, hanging the frames.  There are so many picture hanging tricks on pinterest, but lets be honest. 

ain't nobody got time for that

Toothpaste on the back of frames? Painters tape? Thumbtacks?  Cutting paper out in the shape of your frames? Please see above.  I recommend starting with your middle frames and working your way out.  Then eyeball it.  I mirrored the spacing as close as possible to what I had laid out on the floor, adjusting as I went.


You can see it changed a bit from what I had originally laid out on the floor.  After getting all of the frames hung, I took a picture and did a little photoshopping to see what to put in which frame.  

It's changed even from that, and here is the final result:



That's it! 

Come back Thursday for a gallery wall round up and a giveaway! 


xoxo 

Mandy
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