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Make your Halloween Spooktacular

on
Friday, October 30, 2015
It’s a well-known fact that I love Halloween. It’s like my Christmas. I get so excited for the decorations, the food, the TV specials (you can NEVER watch Hocus Pocus too many times), the costumes, and the parties. This year instead of a Halloween party at our house, I decided to switch things up to host a ghoul’s night of wine, dinner and Hocus Pocus. Eight of my girlfriends came over Saturday evening, and we all had such a good time together. We sat on the patio by the chiminea talking and drinking wine before enjoying ‘Don’t Be a Chicken Chili’ and watching Hocus Pocus.


I was thankful for great girlfriends and an evening to enjoy this beautiful time of the year. Winter will be here too soon! If you’re getting your house ready for Halloween or your own ghoul’s night – here are some of my favorite Halloween entertaining tips and tricks.

1) Candy is dandy but wine is divine

We went through A LOT of wine on Saturday. Stock your wine rack with spooky sips. There are lots of Halloweenish wine names and labels out there. Take a look when you’re buying your wine – it will add to your party. Hob Nob has a limited edition Wicked Red. The label is fabulous, and red blend is really good!



2) Get creative with pumpkins
Pumpkins can be so much more than doorstep décor or Jack-O-Lanterns. I love incorporating them in whimsical and surprising ways. My mother always carves out a pumpkin to use as a vase for mums which always makes a beautiful centerpiece. I love to purchase the mini pumpkins and turn them into floating candles. If you have a big tub, you can fill it with water, and add your mini pumpkins filled with small votive candles. It’s super easy to assemble but makes a stunning display. Your guests will love it!


Floating, glowing pumpkins - magical yet so easy! 

Pie pumpkins – small but not quite mini – are great to add to your buffet. Hollow them out to use for your dips! Save the top for a fun decoration.


Use a pumpkin for your dip bowl.

And, then, yes, of course, make time to carve a Jack-O-Lantern ! It’s so much fun. Save the seeds to bake for a crunchy, healthy snack. I like to roast mine with Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic salt.

One of my favorite things ever -
a warm, glowing, spicy-smelling Jack-O-Lantern.

3) Keep the theme going with food

For my ghoul’s night I served Don’t Be a Chicken Chili, Monster Eyes, Pumpkin dip and veggies, pumpkin seeds, and 
a frighteningly decadent dessert bar. We also had Rachel Ray’s Pumpkin Pie Martinis to top off the night– scary good! You don’t have to go Pinterest crazy to give your food a Halloween flair. (Ain’t nobody got time for that.) It’s simple to give normal foods a Halloween twist with a few changes to the name or tweaks to the recipe. I also saved time by purchasing my desserts, and throwing together a monster mix (peanuts, gummy worms, kettle corn, candy corn, banana chips, dark chocolate) to snack on during the movie. No one will care or notice if some things aren’t homemade!

Monster mix - perfect movie snack.



4) Enjoy the October weather

If the weather allows get outside and enjoy it. Fall evenings can be crisp, spicy and delightful. We’re about ready to spend the next four to five months stuck inside, so I love to enjoy every October evening outside that I can. So, light up the fire pit or chiminea, grab a blanket and your wine, and go take in the beautiful fall weather.


October sunsets are the best.

Get the chiminea going - October evenings are crisp! 

5)  Document the fun

Take lots of photos, blog about it, post it on Instagram – whatever it takes to remember the fun. Holidays and special moments with friends and family are worth remembering. I love this time of year so much – it’s fun to go back and look at the celebrations, the food, and the decorations. It will also help you remember how to do it up fabulously again next year.


Wine and pumpkins make me happy. 

Happy Haunting, friends! 

Last day on the lake

on
Monday, October 26, 2015
We recently took the boat out for one last hurrah on the lake before winter. It’s hard to believe how quickly summer flew by. It’s already been about a year since we got the boat, and Mike was so excited to spend the summer on the lake. We spent many Saturdays on the water with friends, took our parents out, and made a fun trip to Table Rock Lake, so I would say it was a successful summer. 

The closest lake to us is about a 40 minute drive, and paired with loading up and preparing the boat, it’s a good chunk of your morning (and I don’t even do the majority of the work. Go Captain Mike!) So, I wasn’t exactly excited about fitting this trip out to the lake in an already busy schedule. But we needed to get Mike’s parents out on the boat, and take advantage of a sunny day before it was time to winterize the boat. So I went along with a smile and a cooler of wine. I was really happy I went. It’s like the saying about a workout – sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to go, but once you do you never regret it.



We enjoyed a beautiful, sunny fall afternoon on the water with Mike’s parents. We broke out the wine, cheese and crackers and enjoyed visiting. I was thankful for my family, the fresh air and the blue skies. It was an awesome reminder to not get too set on schedules. 

Until next summer, Mallory!

Twenty-nine

on
Monday, October 19, 2015
Today I am twenty-nine. When did I get to be this old? I still vividly remember when I was 9 going on 10, and I thought it was such a BIG deal to be going to double digits. But twenty-nine – wow! When I started my journey through my twenties nine years ago I don’t exactly know if I imagined what I would be doing at 29 or what 29 would feel like. I think the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to be a writer. When I was 20 years old, 29 felt ages away. Well, time sure flies. As my favorite author Gretchen Rubin would say, “the days are long, but the years are short.”

Sorority girls, pajamas and champagne - what else would you expect on my 20th birthday?
 
Celebrating my 21st with my best friend from journalism school, Matt.

The twenties are trying, testing, terrific, tumultuous, and terrifying. A lot goes on in your twenties. I don’t think I’ll ever experience such a dynamic and diverse decade in my life again. During my twenties, I went off to school, learned to live on my own, joined a sorority, met new friends, dated, broke up, laughed, cried, learned to write for a newspaper, made difficult decisions, worried about easy ones, earned two degrees, got a dog, moved, moved again, moved again and again, lived in New York, traveled, started new jobs, quit some jobs, lost people I loved, learned about myself, ran a ton of miles, got married to my best friend, bought a house, and so much more. Whew. What a decade, and I’ve got one more year of the roaring twenties left.

Wine and cupcakes for my 24th with my KC girlfriends when I lived in Lenexa. All I wanted for my birthday this year was a diamond ring.  Mike made me wait a few months. 

Quarter of century celebrated with good friends, family, and Baby Jay on 'the Hill.'

I think my 20 year-old self would be pretty pleased with 29 -year-old Sasha. My journey through my twenties wasn’t always easy, and far from settled, but it was pretty great, too. I’m older, wiser, stronger, and much more in tune with who I am. I’ve got one more year left, and I’m excited to see what year 29 will bring. I truly believe the best is yet to come.  “What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet.” 

Birthdays on the Hill are now a tradition - here's #27 with my parents and Missy!


And this guy - celebrating 29 in Lawrence on October 17, 2015. Love you, Mike!


Wichita Wednesday - The Hopping Gnome & Central Standard Brewing

on
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
For the longest time, when you wanted a local beer in Wichita you had one choice – River City Brewery. And don’t get me wrong, I love RCB! Their wheat beer is one of my favorites. Then Wichita Brewing Company came along with another bunch of great beers and delicious pizzas.

But a new crop of craft breweries has been popping up, helping Wichita earn a little more respect with all of us craft beer lovin’ millennials. These local breweries have made for some pretty great weekend sipping.

The Hopping Gnome is a great little brewery right in the middle of the Douglas Design District. The space is small with exposed ceilings and brick, but the beers are big on flavor and their gnome game is spot on. As a former gnome-loving child, I immediately fell in love with this place when I walked in. I didn’t even need to taste their beer, but when I did, I loved it more.


Their Hopping Gnome motifs are so great - you can purchase shirts, glasses, growlers, and stickers with the cute little logo. The bar features illustrations from one of my favorite childhood books, “Gnomes.” Did I mention how much I love the gnome theme?! There are even boy and girl gnome signs on the restroom doors. 

Ok. On to the important stuff – the beer! Their beer is really good. The first time Mike and I went they only had the ICT IPA and Frank’s Oatmeal Stout on tap. Both are beers that Mike and I typically wouldn’t go for, but we were anxious to check the place out, so Mike chose the IPA and I went for the Stout – both were really fresh and full of flavor. When we returned later this summer, we both agreed the The Earl of ESB (Extra Special Beer) was our favorite.

The Hopping Gnome doesn’t serve food but every time we’ve been there they’ve had a food truck parked outside. It makes a great stop for a pre-dinner beer when you’re out and about, too.

Central Standard Brewing’s space is really, really great. If you want a cool place to hang out on a lovely fall evening with a flavorful beer, it’s the perfect stop.


Located just south of Douglas on Greenwood Street, CSB has a large patio area with picnic tables, twinkling string lights and whiskey barrels. As you walk in you immediately notice the cool factor – a marquee light sign that reads the beers, a wide variety of retro furniture, and huge garage doors that open up the brewery to the outdoors on nice evenings. My favorite CSB beer so far is Tawny Dancer. (their beer names are great!)

Another cool thing? You can buy a Crowler. Yep, you heard me. Not a Growler, but its smaller cousin in 32 oz. can form. You pick the beer, they seal it up and label it, and before you know it you’re walking out the door with a freshly canned beer. They claim that they are the only brewery in Kansas where you can purchase one. It’s pretty fun.




If you’re hungry there are a few meat and cheese trays, and a food truck parked outside. But really you’re going for the beer and the atmosphere, which is just fine.

I’m excited to go back to both of these new breweries – especially as the seasons change and different beers will go into rotation.

Go try them out if you haven’t! Happy sipping!  

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