Category Archives: decorations

Mummies, Monsters and Sweet Little Pumpkins

You may be wondering where this post is going based on the dichotomy of a title, huh?

Me too.

Don’t worry we’re all in this together.

I sometimes wonder what it’s like to plan out blog posts. To have them be strategic and organized versus a brain dump of the tiny elements of creativity or life updates I’ve managed to throw together last-minute in an effort to get them out of my head and onto your smart phone.

In reality it would take far more monetization of this blog and likely the hiring of an assistant to ever get to deliver you the content strategy you deserve.

In the meantime (aka always and forever) you are stuck with my random frequency and rogue content. Chances are if you’ve stuck around this long, a small part of you may even appreciate them.

Moving on.

If there’s one thing to get me back on track with blogging it’s a holiday. There’s a voice in my head in the month leading up to said holiday that starts to whisper:

“So, what are you going to make for Halloween this year?”

Soon, the whisper turns to a normal speaking voice that says:

“Only a few weeks left to decide. Better get some supplies just in case.”

It’s not my fault that this voice comes out more frequently whenever I’m near the baking or holiday aisle at Target. It just does.

By the holiday week, the tone gets an attitude and says things like:

“Well you might as well pack away all those new Halloween cookie cutters and sprinkles you bought for this year because there’s no way you have time to make spiders and cauldrons and headstones now. Don’t blame me, I’ve been bugging you for weeks to decide.”

And then, like most things in my life lately, I decide to throw something together last-minute after Matt suggests we just “buy some cookies at the store or something.”

“Blasphemy. Doesn’t he know we have a reputation to uphold?” 

So in the spirit of upholding reputations as we enter into another holiday season, I present a simple way to make a “homemade” Halloween treat fit for kids and adults alike.

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Mummy & Monster White Chocolate Oreos

  • 1 package oreos
  • 1 package vanilla almond bark
  • green gel food coloring (I used wilton leaf green)
  • candy eyes (wilton-baking aisle)
  • Edible food marker (black)

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In a large ceramic bowl, melt half of almond bark brick in microwave at 50 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir.

Using a wax paper covered cookie sheet as your landing spot, dip Oreos into white chocolate until covered and set on paper. Once all are dipped, place candy eyes and then put cookie sheet in refrigerator to set chocolate.

In a separate bowl, melt the other half of almond bark until creamy. Add a few drops of gel food coloring (water-based food coloring will stiffen your chocolate) and mix until you get your desired monster green.

Repeat chocolate dipping process on another wax paper covered cookie sheet. Add eye and sprinkles or any other monster features you see fit. Or add another eye and now that I look at them you have a pretty close resemblance to a Ninja Turtle.

Cowabunga.

While green monsters are cooling in fridge, pull white mummies back out and use remaining white chocolate to make mummy wraps. This works best if the chocolate has slightly stiffened but feel free to re-melt in microwave for thinner gauzing.

mummy oreo, monster oreo, white chocolate oreos, halloween treats, halloween oreos, baking, dessert, holiday, mummy cookies, monster cookies,

So now that we got the spooky stuff out of the way, let’s randomly transition to the sweeter side of the season where pumpkins are growing and so is the size of my belly.

Last weekend we were fortunate to get together with our Chicago/Zalewski side of the family for a shower celebrating the upcoming arrival of Baby Z.

little pumpkin baby shower, baby, party, little pumpkin, gender neutral baby shower

All fall-themed decor credit goes to my sister-in-law and mother-in-law who created an adorable shower for Matt and I. Would you just look at those cookies?

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little pumpkin baby shower, baby, party, little pumpkin, gender neutral baby shower

little pumpkin baby shower, baby, party, little pumpkin, gender neutral baby shower

little pumpkin baby shower, baby, party, little pumpkin, gender neutral baby shower

It was so nice to get together with everyone ahead of the holiday season. We can’t wait to celebrate with the rest of the family in just a few weeks.

 

Hello Spring. 

So how do you survive your first winter back in the Midwest after living in Florida?christmas in florida, holidays, florida,
Don’t blog about it and it’s like it didn’t even happen.

Not sure whether there is a joke or an excuse in there, but I needed a transition so take it for what it is.

Truth is our first winter back has been pretty mild. And only in terms of temperature.

But if you’re gauging it on social engagements and work schedules, it’s been red hot. Most likely from a combination of living closer to friends and family, low housing inventory and increased demand for local athletic training services.

I’ll save you the apologies for my absence in this particular corner of the internet and instead bring you up to speed with photo montages and random things our dog has eaten (and had surgically removed) since we last talked (spoiler alert: it’s my favorite cashmere scarf).

superbowl cookies, football cookies, superbowl, dessert, sugar cookies, royal icing

Super Bowl Sunday

valentine's day dessert, yogurt covered strawberries, ombre strawberries, dessert,

Galentine’s Day Brunch

St. Louis Blues Hockey, Blues,

First St. Louis Blues Game

spring, tulips, whole foods, st. louis, flowers

Visiting Flowers at Whole Foods

gender neutral tassel garland, gender reveal, tissue banner, tassel garland

Saeger Gender Reveal Tassel Garland

valentine's day cookies, m&m cookies, baking, cookies, holiday

A Valentine’s M&M cookie recipe not worth sharing

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd

Watching my favorite show on T.V.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd

Showing off my new belly scar

And since I’ve had this draft for several weeks now, it seems like as good a time as any to do a St. Patrick’s Day recap of recipes I used to make when I was fun.

Christmas Cookies: New Additions to the Family

If you follow me on social media and/or are a co-worker or family member (which let’s face it is about 99.9% of my readers), then you know I recently finished up a batch of sugar cookies.

I know what you’re thinking.

We get it Sarah. You bake. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

If that’s what you’re saying in your head right now, you’ll be happy to know I was ‘over them’ about a week ago. Truth is, if I don’t post about them today, we’ll be into the New Year and my sugar cookie-filled jolliness will be overwhelmed by resolutions and complaining about all the new people at the gym.

So in an effort to not repeat myself from year’s past posts about similarly shaped cookies, I’ll simply focus today’s post on the new additions to the Murphy Zalewski Christmas Cookie Family.

Fun fact: Did you know that Matt doesn’t even like these sugar cookies? Each year I end up making alternative batches of cookies and treats each year for him because he prefers a soft cookie to a hard one.

#peoplepleaser

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This year’s bunch featured some old favorites (see presents and trees) and a few newbies.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

It’s amazing what opportunities open up when you decide to add two new colors to the mix. The trees got trunks, Frosty got a hat and nose and Frosty’s faceless friend Gingerbread George made an appearance.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In other news I finally discovered that the squiggly portion of the ornament was actually the metal part so they joined the fam again after a few years of being shunned for their awkwardness around the holiday.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite Santa, who got a spray tan and his brows done for the 2016 holiday season.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In an effort to always improve, I thought this year might be a good time to share how far we’ve come with this particular Christmas cookie family.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And just like the holiday season, some years your tree is pretty and some years Santa threw back one too many before the annual family photo. The important thing is that you all spent time together.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to make a long and unrealistic list of fitness and organizational goals for the coming year. Here’s to giving it the old college try!

Happy New Year!

 

Wedding Snapshots: the details

When it comes to wedding and party photos, I’m a sucker for detail shots. And if you’re a sucker for detail shots then we should be best friends. Which is pretty much what our photographer and I became as soon as I looked at her work and saw that she appreciated the little details just as much as I do.

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There’s just something in the details. Don’t get me wrong, you may not get the same emotion with a detail shot as you do with a candid, but I love the way that the details give you a feel for the entire day. As if the theme (if there is one) is all wrapped up into a pretty little detailed package.

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So without further ado, here are some details from our wedding day taken by the talented Wright Photographs out of Champaign.
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Super Spring Break

If you couldn’t tell from my overgramming last week, my nephews (and my sister) came to visit us to celebrate their spring break. Unfortunately I spent most of the week at work, but I’m grateful for the afternoons and evenings I spent brushing up on my toilet humor, identifying fire ant hills and avoiding getting jinxed.

Days were spent punching water spouts at the splash park and evenings cheating at mini golf. We even managed a second attempt at the beach since the first time was ‘too boring.’

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On Thursday, we celebrated Jake’s 5th birthday the only way Jake prefers to celebrate, with superhero masks and store-bought cookie cake.

IMG_4663IMG_4664IMG_4669IMG_4670IMG_4671Friday we had a picnic at the beach and then spent the afternoon drop-kicking waves to cap off the trip. And is it just me or did we do so right next to a Nana lookalike? IMG_9943

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We miss them already but we’re soaking up the quiet and resting up the busy months ahead.

April Showers

It’s wedding season! Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday we were all getting together for bridal showers and bachelorette parties every other weekend?

Truth is it’s been a while since we all got together to celebrate a wedding. That’s why Matt and I decided to be the last. You know, to build the suspense and excitement.

And to give our friends a chance to go out for a night and leave their kids with grandma and grandpa.

We ventured home last weekend for a weekend full of wedding festivities and Easter celebrations. After a brief pilot strike, new flight schedules and a detour in Chicago, we made it to Springfield around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. This was our third trip home that we arrived after midnight so we’re hopeful that by the time the wedding comes, the travel gods smile down on us instead of pouring their flight delays and traffic jams all over us.

Travel woes behind us, we spent Saturday amidst family and friends and if you ask me, there’s no better way to spend a weekend day. It meant so much to us for both sides of friends and family come into town, something I appreciate so much more living thousands of miles away from them.

My mom and sister handled all of the planning and execution of the shower so while I can’t take credit for any of the details, I did manage to snap a few photos to share with you. I think we both know I’m good for little more than photo posts at this point so here’s a mash-up of the weekend.

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cakewedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cakewedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

We had a great Easter celebration and are continuing the party this week with the boys visiting Florida for their spring break. You’ll have to excuse my delay in posting as a certain spunky younger brother is turning 5 tomorrow and I’ve got some decorating to do but I’ll leave you with a few shots from Easter Sunday.

Easter, brothers, boys, photography, easter sunday, family, kidsEaster, brothers, boys, photography, easter sunday, family, kids Easter, brothers, boys, photography, easter sunday, family, kids

Can you tell they’re brothers?

 

 

A Christmas wish

Dear Santa,
This is Finnegan Murphy here. You may not have our new address because my family moved to a place where there is no snow in the wintertime.

christmas in florida, holidays, florida, IMG_8625

If anyone will understand my situation it’s you. I’m a Swiss MOUNTAIN dog for goodness sake. I live for snow. I like to pounce in the snow, eat snow, freeze my paws in the snow (not the salty sidewalk just the snow) stick my nose in the snow and eat the snow. All of it.

greater swiss mountain dog, puppy, finn, swissy, gsmd, dog,

finn, dog park, skinner park, chicago, west loop, greater swiss mountain dog puppy, swissy

There’s no snow here. None. I’ve tried to eat that grainy stuff by the water but it’s not the same. Trust me. So you’ll forgive me if I’m having a hard time finding my holiday spirit this year.

finn, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy, dog, brohard dog peach, paw park, florida, gulf coast, dog beach

I’ve been waiting patiently for winter to come since we made that super long car ride, but it’s still warm here. Sure there are weird inflatable creatures that I’m not allowed to play with in everyone’s yard but did I mention there’s no snow? What’s a guy to do without the one thing he loves more than his mom and dad? And peanut butter. And car rides. And naps.

greater swiss mountain dog, puppy, finn, swissy, gsmd, dog,

On January 9th I turn two and a half. My mom and dad seem to think I’m much older than that because they keep leaving me for long (and short) periods of time without supervision. Crazy, right? I still need them. Like must be touching them at all times to keep them from touching each other need them.

greater swiss mountain dog, puppy, finn, swissy, gsmd, dog,

So I’ve been trying my best to show them how much I miss them by displacing items they love from their permanent locations while they are gone. What kind of things you might ask? Well anything that they will notice obviously. So there’s a couple holes in mom’s favorite t-shirt. Dad has plenty of koozies in the drawer so he won’t miss it if I just eat one of them. LL Bean sends a catalog at least once a week anyways. Come to think of it mom did seem particularly upset when I learned how to open drawers and moved her DSLR camera from the island to the kitchen floor so you may want to bring her something nice this year to make up for that. My bad.

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I know they love me. I can tell because they leave food out for me while they’re at work, Santa! They hang the bananas up so high on the counter I really have to stretch to get to them and end up knocking other stuff over in the process, but it’s totally worth it. I love bananas, peel and all. Just like I love snow. And naps. And peanut butter…

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

Anyways. I guess if I had one wish this Christmas it would be for my mom and dad to lose their jobs so they could stay home with me all day long.

Too harsh?

Ok what if you help them win the Lotto?

Too much?

Fine. If I can’t have any of that I will just ask for a few toys that will wear my brain out so I can take more naps. Stuff like this.

source

Or this.

 

And just one more thing as you evaluate your lists this year, Santa. I’m sure you’ve noticed that mom and dad brought a giant tree into our house and I’m not even allowed to pee on it? What’s up with that?

greater swiss mountain dog, puppy, finn, swissy, gsmd, dog, christmas tree, christmas, holiday

Barks and kisses,

Finnegan Murphy

 

 

What music do mummies listen too?

Wrap Music.

This Halloween joke was brought to you by Brent J. from Upper Arlington, Ohio

Thanks Brent!

I apologize for my blog infrequency but you know I’m not one to miss a holiday so it’s only fitting that I bring it back for one of my favorites.

I love Halloween. I would say it’s my favorite holiday but I say that about every holiday so I doubt you would believe me if I did.

Halloween is totally my favorite holiday.

I’m the kind of girl who gets into the spirit by making an entire batch of chocolate covered pretzels 7 days ago only to find out that Halloween was not for another week.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

Speaking of spirits.

Why do ghosts make good cheerleaders?

Because they have a lot of spirit.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

I found these googlie eyes a few weeks back and couldn’t get the idea of googlie-eyed ghosts out of my head ever since.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

If you were ever wondering where I get ideas for things to make, the above statement about sums it up. There’s really no planning involved. An idea comes out of nearly nowhere and once it’s in my head I can’t get rid of it until the sugar cookie dough has set, the royal icing has been mixed and the googlie eyes placed. It’s a blessing and a curse really.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

I won’t get into the recipes as I broke them down in this post, but just know that if you want a soft and chewy royally-iced goblin, you are going to need a few hours of outlining time.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

And outlining time takes away from what the heck are we going to dress up as this year time so I’m off to figure that out.

What do you call a ghost’s mother and father?

Transparents.

Moving Day

Hey there. Me again. Back after a brief hiatus with more photos and fewer words. I promise I’ll be back on a regular schedule once we are all moved in but until then I hope you’ll settle for a photo update of the last few days.

Friday was spent down in Champaign celebrating with family and friends before the 5th running of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. Technically this year marks the 6th annual race but this was the 5th year of our family running let’s just go with that.

christie clinic illinois marathon, racing, half marathon, champaign, family,

It was so nice to see my Champaign family and to squeeze the little ones before we leave. We were blessed (and cursed) with nice weather throughout the weekend as well, making for a very hot race the next day.

christie clinic illinois marathon, racing, half marathon, champaign, family,

Jake and Owen came over for the youth run on Saturday well-prepared with their under armor superhero shirts. I missed the run but highlights included Jake getting a side stitch approximately 30 seconds into a 1K distance, Owen blazing to the finish and Jake asking the volunteer why he was getting a medal if he didn’t win.

Saturday evening we celebrated our move with some of our closest Chicago friends. I feel very blessed to have had these girls (and guys) in my life over the last 6 years and will miss them so much. It’s so nice to have a bunch of people to look forward to visiting each time we come back though.

chicago going away party, haymarket pub, friends, Chicago

Approximately 4 hours of sleep later we were onto Sunday where we celebrated the upcoming arrival of the first grandchild on Matt’s side. If you can’t tell by the shower colors, it’s a girl.

girls baby shower, tassel garland, candy bar, sweets table, diaper cake, pink baby shower,

5 or so hours of sleep later it was moving day. Chicago sent us off just about the same way it treated us all winter long with gray skies and wet conditions but we made the most of it. We had a bit of a fiasco with our movers last-minute so we called in some family to help us make the trip. Once the truck was packed, Matt and his brother started the trip down and I headed to Springfield to pick up my dad and Finn.

spring weather, chicago moving day, moving truck

I’m not typically one to consider signs but I am now convinced that Bloomington hates me. You may recall I ran into a big winter storm coming through Bloomington a few months back so I guess it’s only fitting to get hit with a tornado warning on my last trip home.

So dad and I hit the road early this morning with the hope of making it to our new home in a day or so. Matt and his brother are of course already nearly there thanks to a few naps and a lot of caffeine.

Next stop, Florida.

florida_home

Showering Baby King

One of my best friends is having a baby!

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower,

If that phrase sounds familiar to you, it should. I’ve been saying it on repeat now for the last two years and probably will for at least another one. Yes, at times it does seem surreal that the girls I transitioned from friendship bracelets to bars with are now in charge of tiny humans, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It melts my heart to be able to celebrate the excitement and joy that comes with becoming a mother for the first time with them. Not that I know specifically what it’s like to become a mother for the first time but I’m excited and joyful nonetheless. Combine that with a cross-country move in a few weeks and I’m probably more hormonal than the mother-to-be.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

The good news is I was a little too frantic with the set-up to get emotional before the shower. I was also a little too sidetracked during it to get very many photos of actual people, but I did get a little choked up going through the detail shots afterwards.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

I know what you’re thinking. Man this girl is into details. And while I did fall a little hard for my ‘nearly took more time than the big one’ mini tassel cake topper, my reaction is more for the big life changes ahead for my girlfriend than the party details.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

Do you ever have those moments where you realize your life is about to change in a huge way? Baby showers, weddings, graduations, first communions and the like bring on those moments for me. There’s often a pause of clarity during the celebration where I look at everyone around me and realize the shift that is happening.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower,

Life is changing. You’re going to be a mom, a wife, a new employee, a grown up who gets to eat that weird host thing that tastes like plastic. You’ve never done this before. It’s nerve-wrecking, but the overwhelming sense of excitement that comes with it makes it all worthwhile. Life is changing and it’s going to be better than it’s ever been.

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Yes, baby showers are cute and Pinterest-friendly.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

And guests actually enjoy watching you open gifts because there’s often tiny little outfits among the packages, but my favorite part about any event comes after the tables are broken down and the treat bags are distributed.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

It’s after all of that when you realize how lucky you are to have friends and family to support and celebrate you on the journey. And while you may be nervous or excited about what’s to come, you know that each of them are just as excited as you are and can’t wait to share it with you.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

Time flies. Before you know it the little girl you were showering last year is sitting down eating cake right next to you. Life is changing and it’s getting better than ever.