Sweet + Simple Halloween DIYs

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Halloween is just around the corner and anyone who knows me, knows that I’m super excited. (Halloween is my favourite holiday!) I really can’t get enough of all things pumpkin, candy corn, and adorable babes in sweet, little costumes. Halloween decorating & preparation always start early in this house. This year I’ve been having a lot of fun with our new RTGS LED string lights and finding ways to include them in my Halloween plans. A couple of projects that I’ve been working on so far are these pretty “glowing” mason jars and Roman’s “Trick or Treat” candy basket.

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For the mason jars, I simply decorated a glass jar with some Halloween-themed washi tape. Then I stuffed an LED light string inside to give it that pretty/eery glow. What I love about these light strings is that they are indoor/outdoor safe. So you can use them as centerpieces for your Halloween party whether it’s inside or out. They would also look so dreamy lining the walkway up to our house in the evening, wouldn’t they? I might make a bunch more for just that purpose.

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For Roman’s candy basket, I picked up a couple of sweet, little baskets at the dollar store — one for Roman and one for his cousin, Aden. Then I wrapped each one with an LED light strand. The lights are so easy to use and they wrap around anything effortlessly. I just love how the lights make their little faces glow. Plus, it’s a great safety feature. As it gets dark on Halloween evening, little ones will be much easier to see holding their glowing baskets. Once again, the lights are weather-proof so they’ll glow strong no matter what mother nature & Halloween have in store for us. You could even incorporate the lights into your kiddo’s costume. How sweet would a little glowing robot or alien be!?

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The possibilities are endless with these lights. They come in lots of beautiful colors & sizes. Halloween is just the beginning. I’ve got plans to use them for Christmas decorations and can’t wait to use them for camping next spring, too. This post is in partnership with RTGS products — be sure to check them out on Facebook at Facebook.com/RTGSproducts. Thanks for supporting the partners that help me keep this blog going.

harvest //

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Early in summer, my mother-in-law gifted us with a used wagon from the thrift shop where she works. Little did we know then that the wagon would become such an important part of our summer harvesting ritual.

A few times each week, when M. got home from work in the evening, he would load little Roman into the wagon for a pull around the yard and to our gardens. M. would pluck whatever was ripe from the vine and hand the treasure to little Roman who waited patiently on his seat in the wagon. Roman took his job very seriously. Once the vegetables were in his hands or in his bowl, he would not let go of them. He would keep everything tucked carefully inside while M. continued to pull him around the yard and water the gardens and the lawn.

Later the boys would return inside, where Roman would come running to me (always at top speed!) to show off the fruits of his labor with pride. After much applause and excitement over the picks of the day, he would finally turn over the veggies for cleaning, slicing, and devouring.

Our summer gardening didn’t go quite as planned — but then again what did this summer. We got things in the ground too late and the plot that we chose for the larger garden didn’t get enough sun. Our large salad tomatoes took forever to ripen. Finally one night we knew that they were ready and planned to pick them the next morning for a big salad. That night, however, one of our friendly local deer paid the garden a visit (for the first time all summer) and ate every last tomato. We still had a nice crop — especially considering that I started more than half of it from seed. Our green beans, cherry tomatoes (red & gold), and eggplants were the star performers. We also learned that Roman is truly tomato-obsessed. I’ve never seen a child devour a tomato like he does. (Sometimes the cherries never made it into the house.)

I attempted several varieties of flower from seed, but the zinnias were the only to make it to bloom. I was tempted to cut a few for a bouquet but there weren’t quite enough and, more importantly, they’ve been drawing hummingbirds to the yard almost every day! That has been a real treat.

In any case, autumn is upon us now. The air has turned cold and soon our garden will fade as we move into the long, bitter cold months. For now, though, we’re enjoying the change of season — pumpkins, sweaters, & boots.

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“Harvest” is the September writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Courteney of The Titled Blog. A few words from Courteney — Hello! I’m Courteney from “The Titled Blog” I live up in Canada (in Abbotsford, British Columbia – just East of Vancouver) with my husband, one year old daughter Lucy, a pug named Minnie and an angry flame point siamese cat named Bigsby. My blog has evolved over the last 7 years from random rants and social commentary to lifestyle and now most recently to being a mom. My daughter was born with a lot of health problems and I often write about the challenges that have come with having a baby that has spent a good chunk of her first year in and out of the hospital and how to deal with those challenges head on. When I’m not blogging, I work as a photographer with my own business (Courteney Rodda Photography) sing in my jazz band “Courteney Rodda and the Other Guys” and most recently I am sewing for an awesome local company making baby moccasins called “Minimoc
You can also find me on Instagram, where I post too many pictures of my daughter, dog and cat.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

// getting by

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Hello, friends. Just stopping by for a moment to say that we have not, in fact, fallen off the face of the earth. I am still dealing with some health issues, so it will likely be a little while until things are back to normal around here. I hope that you’re alright and that these last days of summer (or winter depending on your hemisphere) are full of love & light.

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celebrate //

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This month’s prompt word is celebrate. Aside from the fact that I’ve been physically unable to spend time on my computer, it’s been difficult to even brainstorm for this prompt. I’ve been suffering and when you’re suffering, it’s hard to think about celebrating.

Still, this set of photographs kept coming into my mind. I took them on our last day of vacation. I cannot help but to smile when I look at them. They remind that even when life is very difficult, there is still reason to celebrate & be grateful.

I wanted to put some words with these images, but writing is not my strong point at the moment. So here is one of my favourite poems which happens to be very apropos to the celebrate theme.

won’t you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

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Come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed. That line just takes my breath away.


“Celebrate” is the August writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Nicole of Rose Runs Wild. A few words from Nicole — Hi! I’m Nicole from Rose Runs Wild! I’m mama to a teenager, wife to my handsome husband and dog mama to our bulldog and pit bull. I work full time and blog in my free time. I love wearing black and white, plants, doughnuts, crappy pop music and working on our home we just recently bought! My blog is basic, it’s just about our life. The good, the bad and the ugly. I try to share as honestly as I possibly can in hopes that one or two other people out there don’t feel so alone. Life is rough, life is beautiful and it’s all about connection through the highs and the lows. That’s all I’m really trying to do, connect and share. And take lots of cute photos of my son (in the rare moment he lets me) and my dogs of course! Connect with Nicole here: Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin // Twitter // Tumblr.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///


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31/52 & 32/52

The 52 Week Project – A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for one year.

blue eyes toddler | livelovesimple.com

31/52 — Completely mesmerized by something, though I can not remember what it was now.


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32/52 — Relaxing for a moment after devouring a hot fudge sundae at the county fair. He had such fun and was all smiles the whole trip — this shot isn’t an accurate representation of the day. He loved the animals most of all. A very friendly sheep was the highlight of his day.



Things have been quiet around here and, well, everywhere in my online life. There are literally hundreds of emails in my inbox, unheard of for a woman who gets anxious if she has more than ten unread emails at any given time. But, that’s just the way it is. Everything is in shambles at the moment, both online and otherwise.

I have been — and continue to be — very ill. It will certainly be awhile before I am better and I’m not ready to talk about any of it yet. In the meanwhile I will be checking in here to get caught up as I am able. I have lots to share and some fun projects on the horizon.

To see the other posts in our series, click here.


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Around the Yard in July

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Oh, how I love summertime. There is always something blossoming in our yard. Every day I incorporate something fresh from the garden into our meals. This has only been my second time ever growing food from seed. There is something about the experience that makes it unlike anything else in the world. There is a satisfaction and a sense of reverence that I can’t put into words. Each evening when I walk out into the garden to pick a vegetable and some herbs to use in our supper, my heart swells with gratitude and pride. The meals that I have been preparing are packed with so much love and labor that you can truly taste it in the food.

Every day we spend a bit of time out in the yard — picking, watering, exploring, and admiring.

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yard garden | livelovesimple.com^^^ our hosta are in bloom, such a lovely shade of purple ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com^^^ lettuce grown from organic seeds — it feels like i’m eating a miracle ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com^^^ baby cucumber ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ mama cucumber — our cucumber plants are doing best of all this year, and good thing because Roman loves them! ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ i just love their curly tendrils and it’s amazing to put them on any surface and watch them begin to twirl around within moments — living beings ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ a little jungle of food in the garden box — don’t mind the floppy carrot leaves, I’d just picked them and forgot to move them away for the pictures ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ our big garden at the top of the yard isn’t doing very well, not enough sun — so M. transplanted some of the plants to a new home along our stone wall. here’s hoping. ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ basil — I put this stuff in everything and it’s heaven, heaven, heaven. ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ eggplant blossom ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ baby bell pepper ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ a lonely tomato — our tomatoes are coming in very slowly, but there’s lots of little ones popping now, so it shouldn’t be long! ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ there were piles of wood in various stages of seasoning all over the yard after m. finished splitting them the other day. now they are all neatly stacked and waiting for winter. ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ my little explorer, I’m quite certain that he would spend the whole of his days wandering around outside and exploring every crack & crevice of the earth if he could ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ always climbing ^^^

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yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ spearmint, perhaps the most incredible smell in the world ^^^

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yard garden | livelovesimple.com
^^^ our black-eyed-Susans have popped, sunshine in plant form ^^^

yard garden | livelovesimple.com

I took these photographs late last week. This morning, some bizarre, unseasonable cold front moved in that’s made it feel like autumn. I am not even close to being ready for that. I hope it moves along quickly and makes way for a long, hot, sticky August. Give me all the sunshine! ♥


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Recipe: Salmon Burgers with Pickled Cucumbers

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

Since we returned from vacation I’ve been on a cooking streak. All of that eating out made me long for some home cooked meals and the break from cooking actually made me miss being in the kitchen (a little bit).

I’ve tried several new recipes this past week and these salmon burgers with pickled cucumbers (fresh from our garden) are an absolute favourite. They were so delicious, we wanted to eat about ten each. Even little Roman, who has been quite picky lately, loved this meal. I adapted our salmon burgers from this recipe.

It’s a perfect summertime meal. The salmon burgers are so savory and the cucumbers are a perfect mix of crunchy & zesty.

If you’d like to make this delicious meal yourself, you’ll need:

burgers
1 pound skinless boneless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped chives
3 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste
4 large hamburger buns

cucumbers
1 cucumber sliced into circles
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dill

crunchy mayo
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Panko breadcrumbs

Pickle the cucumbers by combining the cucumbers, vinegar and dill. Salt to taste and set in refrigerator to chill for at least half an hour.

Add first seven ingredients to food processor. Blend until all ingredients are well mixed but salmon is still slightly chunky — just a few pulses. Stir in breadcrumbs and add salt & pepper to taste. Use mixture to make four patties.

Preheat oven to 350. Heat grill or grill pan (I used my stove top griddle) to medium heat. Grill patties until fish is cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer patties to a baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes. Meanwhile, toast hamburger buns.

Prepare crunchy mayo by combining mayo, soy sauce and Panko breadcrumbs. Mix until evenly combined.

When ready to serve, add mayo to the tops of your patties, place them on the toasted buns and add a bit of fresh lettuce. Add a scoop of the cucumbers to your plate and enjoy!

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

salmon burgers recipe | livelovesimple.com

If you give this a try, please let me know how you like it! xo


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Down the Shore

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If you don’t live in New Jersey, you may have never heard the phrase “down the shore.” It’s a phrase that we, North Jersey-ans, use when we are traveling south to the Jersey Shore points. Going “down the shore” every summer has been a tradition in my family for years and years, since long before I was born. Of course the tradition continued after I was born and as such my family went down the shore every summer of my childhood. Without a doubt, many of my most incredible, magical memories are rooted in those trips.

It has always been a dream of mine to continue the tradition with my own family. We took Roman down last summer but he was only a few months old and I didn’t feel comfortable taking him out on the beach then. So, this year was really his first “true” trip to the seashore. Sadly most of my family no longer makes the trip every year, and for those that do, it’s not easy to coordinate travel dates. This time around it ended up being just me, Matthew, and Roman. Even though it would have been nice to have family around us, it was a really special and beautiful trip for the three of us and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Here are a few of my favourite photographs from our little getaway.

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^^^ On our first night, we ate at one of my fave restaurants — Spicy’s Cantina — their shrimp & lobster quesadillas are fantastic and I look forward to having one all year. We ate out for 99% of our meals while we were away and Roman was an angel every.single.time. Waitress after waitress commented on how adorable and well-behaved he is. Sometimes I really have to pinch myself because I can hardly believe how lucky I am with this boy of mine. ^^^

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beach

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^^^ These beach shots are all from my iPhone/Instagram account. I’ve invested a lot of money in my big camera and thought it better to leave it safely behind — away from the sand & sea. ^^^

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^^^ The Seaside Heights boardwalk is hands down one of the best places in the world. Rides, games, food, fun, and a stunning view of the ocean. It pretty much represents everything that is beautiful about summertime. ^^^

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^^^ Our beach rental was two blocks from the beach (which faces east) and one block from the bay (facing west). On our first night, I snuck away from M. & R. just before sunset to check out the view from the bay. When I got to the end of our street, I stumbled upon a field of wildflowers… at sunset… Talk about breathtaking! ^^^

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^^^ This carousel was built in 1910 and has called Seaside Heights its home since 1932. It is one of only a few remaining hand-carved wooden carousels left in the country. Unfortunately, the family that owns it is going to be auctioning it off in September because of financial issues. It breaks my heart because it was such a special part of my childhood. Still, I’m glad I got to take Roman for a ride on it at least once before it is gone. ^^^

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^^^ There was a great playground up the street at the bay beach. Roman had a blast, of course. ^^^

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^^^ Boardwalk food — the most delicious, most unhealthy food in the world. We splurged and splurged the whole trip long. You’ve just got to do it when you’re at the Jersey shore. Fresh cut french fries covered in cheese and fresh squeezed lemonade with lots of sugar are two of my guiltiest pleasures. ^^^

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^^^ Gratefully we had amazing weather and got out on the beach every day. The sand & the sea knocked Roman out like nothing else. It made nap times a cinch. ^^^

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^^^ Roman loves fish and water so we decided to make a trip over to the Point Pleasant Aquarium late one afternoon. It was his first aquarium and he was equally parts thrilled & terrified of the sharks. His expressions were priceless. ^^^

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^^^ There were little monkeys behind the glass in this enclosure. Monkeys are his absolute favourite (he’s obsessed with Curious George) and he is waving hello to one of the monkeys in this shot. So cute. ^^^

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^^^ On our last morning, we stopped at the Park Bakery before we hit the road. The bakery has been around since 1947 and it’s seriously one of the best bakeries in the world. My mom loves their crumbcakes so we picked up a couple for her and some sweet treats for us for our trip home. ^^^

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I am so grateful that we had such an amazing trip. It was really sad to drive away toward home, but we left with full hearts and the most beautiful memories that we could have hoped for… and of course we were happy to come home to our sweet Bella girl!


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30/52

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The 52 Week Project – A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for one year.

30/52 — A much-needed nap after wearing himself out in the surf & the sand.

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29/52

toddler boy | livelovesimple.com

The 52 Week Project – A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for one year.

29/52 — We’re back from vacation. I took this portrait on the first full day of our trip. We discovered a little playground up the street from our beach rental. It was the first time that we let Roman really go off on his own and explore a playground. Of course we stayed right nearby, but we are slowly giving him independence, not standing right behind him to catch every fall. His footing is steady enough now and it’s so beautiful to watch him beam with pride when he accomplishes things on his own.

He had a wonderful time running across the footbridge and worming his way through the tunnels. I sort of can’t get over how big & mature he is in this shot. It makes me proud and it breaks my heart, all at the same time.

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