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Welcome to a series called, Notes for Next Year. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has grand aspirations for the month, but then gets to the end and realizes there are movies or meals or events I forgot (or couldn't muster the energy for). Welp, this may seem a little counter-productive but hindsight – as they say – is 20/20, so I'm going to reflect on our October 2023 and make notes to plan for October 2024. Make sense? Maybe these ideas can inspire you, too. Here goes!


Here's what we watched this year:

  • Haunted Mansion (2023)

  • Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021)

  • Under Wraps 2 (2022)

  • Casper (1995)

  • Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

  • Now & Then (1995)*

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

  • Invasion (not a movie but a series on Apple TV)

There are lists floating around with Halloween-y movies for every day of the month. I would have loved that kind of commitment, but we did what we could with what we have (a common theme here, you'll see).

*A quick note about Now and Then. When watching Casper, I mentioned to G that Christina Ricci and Devon Sawa were in another movie that came out around the same time in the 90s called Now & Then. It was one of my favorites growing up and G was interested in seeing it, so we borrowed it from the library (since I couldn't find my copy). I hadn't seen this movie in years and was surprised that, even though it's set in the summertime, it had a bit of a spooky element running through it – no spoilers but I'm talkin murder-mystery, graveyard visits, and a creepy character who only comes out at night. See? Kinda unexpectedly fun for Halloween.

And here's what we could try and watch next year, when G will be 10 (!):

  • The Curse of Bridge Hallow

  • We Have a Ghost

  • Hubie Halloween

  • Nightbooks

  • Goosebumps

  • Beetlejuice

  • Hocus Pocus

  • Haunted Mansion (2003)


Here's what I made this year:

  • Chili and Cornbread (pre-trick-or-treating tradition)

  • Mummy Calzone with Caesar's Ghost Salad

  • Pumpkin Muffins

  • Orange Rice Krispie Treats

  • Pumpkin Ravioli

  • Ghost Toasts

Again, I would have loved to make something frightfully-themed every night, but it didn't happen. My Pinterest board is FULL of amazing ideas. Next year, I wanna try:


I have a not-so-traditional Halloween Playlist on Spotify. Here are some of the songs I added this year:

  • Bones by Imagine Dragons

  • Lil Boo Thang by Paul Russell

  • Take it to the Graveyard by LVCRFT

  • Lily by Alan Walker

  • Halloween Waltz by moon blues


I used what I had and it was enough. We have a pretty small space, so I keep the decor pretty minimal. This year:

  • I did buy a new door mat that I'll save for next year

  • I jumped on the Occasions Bin bandwagon, it was an easy way to add a little festive fun everyday so I'll definitely do this again

  • Our Switch Witch, Sandy, made an appearance

  • Trick-or-treating with friends was super fun

  • Costumes were really low-key

Next year:

  • Our city puts together a map of decorated homes, so maybe we'll make time to drive by them

  • Halloween Horror Nights?

  • I do not need any more Halloween napkins! I'm all set. If I remember nothing else, I hope it is this.

So that's it for my 2023 Halloween Notes for Next Year. I'd love to know what made your October memorable and what you might be planning for next year.

Updated: Sep 20

I've always said that if I wasn't a designer, I'd be working in the food industry in some capacity. I have also said before I actually became a mom that one of the things I couldn't wait to do was make school lunches.

I realize not everyone is wired like this, but I absolutely love making deliciously irresistible meals for G's lunch. I do think having a design background has really upped my lunch-packing game and I would like to share what I've learned over the last year:

1 | COLOR CAPTURES the attention and appetite of your hungry diner. Unless it's a holiday or a specific theme, I try to have a variety of colors represented.

2 | TINKER WITH TASTE AND TEXTURE. Squishy, crunchy, or chewy, sweet, salty, or sour – try to not have too many of one thing going on. As a general rule of thumb, I try to have a hearty main, two different veggies, two different fruits, and a treat in each lunch. Variety is certainly a key for success.

3 | MINIS. I enjoy hunting down "mini" or snack-sized products in the grocery store. These items will fit better in bento-style lunch boxes and are perfect for smaller hands.

4 | CONTAIN THE EXCITEMENT with a good-quality lunch box. I'm a big fan of the stainless steel models, but use whatever works best for your family. For G's first year in preschool, I used this cute bus-shaped tin but we upgraded to this one for PreK because she has a bigger appetite. The pros of the bento-style lunch boxes for me have been: portion control, reduction in the use of plastic bags, and durability.

5 | INVOLVE THE KIDS. This is for them, after all. While I don't have G helping with making her lunch yet, I do ask for her input on what she wants to see in her lunchbox. Surprises give them something to look forward to. This could be a homemade treat or some fun tools to help them eat their lunch (see my Faves page for ideas!). Little notes from home are also a lovely touch.

6 | ESSENTIALS are essential. Remember to include hand wipes, napkins, and/or hand sanitizer. For the napkins and hand sanitizer, I like to change these to mirror the seasons for a little festive fun. Also important to remember utensils.

I've discovered that blending my design background with my love for food has truly elevated my lunch-packing game. The six principles we've explored today—color, taste, texture, minis, lunch boxes, and involving the kids—have allowed me to create meals that not only nourish my child but also spark her excitement and anticipation each day. So, whether you're a fellow lunchtime enthusiast or just looking to make school lunches more exciting, I hope these tips inspire you to create memorable and satisfying lunches for your loved ones. Here's to many more colorful and creative lunches ahead!

Do you find yourself repeating the same sayings constantly — especially if you’re a mom?

My current season as a mom to a 4-year old is pretty cool because as her vocabulary expands, so do our conversations. I think we’re understanding each other on a deeper level and it’s exciting to see.

Just like you, I’m figuring out this motherhood business as I go. Despite not having a background (or even good grades!) in Psychology, I still understand that our voice becomes our kids’ inner voice as they grow up. So of course I feel a responsibility to be as positive and encouraging as possible.

In no particular order, here’s what’s been on repeat lately:


Anything from waiting in line to cleaning up a big mess, this is my response if she gets all whiney about a task. It’s so imperative that she believes that she can overcome the initial doubt or hesitation that we all feel sometimes.


One day at the library, a couple of kids were playing with some legos that they had scattered all around. G loudly complained that they made a mess.

I’m glad their moms thought it was cute – I was slightly mortified. Around that time I had read somewhere that kids don’t see their play spaces as messy, like we do. They see an island being invaded by pirates or an intergalactic space kitty expedition.

As an artist, I want to foster a healthy imagination in my child and never make her feel bad or guilty for doing what’s natural to her. So, as long as we clean it up before moving on to something else, it’s not a mess.


I know I won’t have the perfect response for everything, but when G points out a person because she’s curious about them for whatever reason I want to have an answer. With this simple phrase, I hope to instill in her a foundation for acceptance and compassion.


This is my alternative to “good job!” which I’ve read is too vague a response for anyone – especially a little one. Paying attention to whatever our kiddos are working on will give us the response that will be most helpful to them. It is my hope that when she's older, on her own, and faced with challenges, her inner voice will be cheering her on.


I said this at a Cracker Barrel when my toddler wanted the peg game at the next table instead of the (perfectly fine) one she was holding. I offhandedly told her, “Sorry babe, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got” and my aunt praised me for good parenting. Um... really? I brushed it off at first, but after further reflection, I agree with her. That simple phrase is teaching her to be resourceful and to find contentment in her present circumstance.


I fully intend to be upfront and honest about money and how I make purchasing decisions when G’s a bit older. But for now, when she wants every shiny object that catches her eye, I tell her it’s just not on our shopping list. Sometimes, I’ll snap a pic and tell her we’ll put it on her Christmas or birthday list. This has helped avoid those dreaded middle-of-the-aisle-full-body-screaming tantrums.


I recently read that multitasking is not a thing. I (stubbornly?) still think I’m able to do it, but not well. I say this in a few different scenarios like when she’s asking me to hold her when I’ve literally got my hands full or she's having a meltdown because she can't color at the dinner table. This is one I’ve heard her say back to me and it’s quite cute: “One thing at a time, right mom?”


I think if each family member – not just the kids – are aware that every single thing has a home, clean up is much less of a struggle.


This is what I say when she shows me something. Instead of giving a knee-jerk approval ("I love it!"), I want to give her a chance to tell me about her creation. This is also great for when you have no idea what they're showing you ("Oh, it's not a bear? It's a dust storm? Of course...")! This also gives me a moment to give her meaningful feedback: "I love how you used the color blue to make the raindrops!" and "You worked really hard on those swirls!"


A sweeter way of saying, "Let your freak flag fly!" I think it's important for all of us to know that our individuality is our power. To help build her confidence, I want her to know that as long as she's not mean or hurting herself or others, she can be or do whatever she wants.

Your turn! I'd love to hear what's on repeat in your home.

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