The Week I Turned 40…


A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

It’s true. I turned 40 last Monday. Eek, right? LOL, honestly it was painless. I’m OK with it (it’s certainly better than the alternative, right?) And truthfully, I had a spectacular day and a wonderful week. Since I never got around to posting on my actual birthday, I thought I’d just do a recap of my entire, awesome week! Actually, let’s start with the prior weekend. I actually went into my blog archive vault. Yes — there’s a vault! I have my pre-Wordpress archives stored there and I decided to look back at 2005. This is the entry from the day I turned 30:

Sweet 30 
Am I goofy to be totally excited to be turning 30? Well, so be it! So far I'm having a happy birthday, indeed! Jake made me a fantastic card and gave me some earrings. Drew gave me an absolutely gorgeous necklace, handmade by the woman I did the lookbooks for last fall (Drew maintains her web site, too). Photos later. I got to take a shower and wash my hair AND shave my legs. Plus, I actually got to do my hair this morning and put on makeup, woot! The boys and I are leaving shortly for a Halloween party. And the dusting of snow melted (as I knew it would) and the sun is shining and it's a perfect fall day!
Oct 26, 05 | 10:31 am

It was a perfect fall day this year, too! Glorious sunshine, cool temperatures. I don’t think I would change a thing if I had control over the weather. Although I didn’t get to sleep in, I was surprised first thing in the morning. As you all know, I’m a pretty quiet person. I joke that I’m a “professional homebody” and I’m so glad my husband gets that. So there were no surprise parties or big to-dos. Instead, he told me that he had arranged for me to have a quiet spa day — he’d made the appointment and all I had to do was show up! Again, he knows me well. He made the appointment because I’d never do it for myself. So sweet! Pedicure

Spa DaySo yes, I had an indulgent morning: massage, facial, manicure, pedicure. They even gave me a glass of champagne since it was my birthday! The rest of the day was nice and relaxing. Drew and the kids made me dinner and then we had caramel apple cake. (Please excuse how I look here, LOL! I was not about to put on makeup after my amazing facial.) I got a few other goodies, too: a new bag, candy (ha — look at the emotions on the Snickers bars), and someone thought he was being funny with the large-print word search book. My birthday!

Birthday GoodiesTuesday was back to the grind! I did some grocery shopping and opened up orders for Christmas elf hats. I have two that I am finishing up so I’ll share photos once they are done. Wednesday I started working on hat orders and did work around the house. Thursday I met my parents for lunch at O’s Eatery up in Chatham. I’ve driven by this diner probably hundreds of times, so I was excited to finally try it out, and it did NOT disappoint. I was hoping to order their deluxe fish sandwich, but they had run out of the cod. I was a little bummed, but happy to learn that their fish is delivered on Fridays, so in the future, I know when to go! Instead, I had a grilled chicken sandwich with pesto, mozzarella, and roasted red peppers. SO good! I also got a cup of their split pea soup — delicious as well. I will definitely be going back there.  Diner

My mom also gave me this beautiful afghan for my birthday! No one appreciates a handmade gift like another crafter. She made it with Simply Soft and it is so smooshy and cozy. I think I’m going to have to fight the kids for who gets to cover up with this one in the mornings, LOL!

Friday night we had some friends over (OK, Jake had some friends over, mostly) for an outdoor Halloween movie party. It got so cold, but the kids had fun. We showed a Tales from the Crypt episode and Transylvania 6-5000. Nothing too creepy.

Party ListSaturday, of course, was Halloween. We went out to lunch and ran errands earlier in the day and then went out Trick-or-Treating in the evening. This was probably Jake’s last year for ToT — sad as it is, at some point you have to stop. He’s actually OK with it. He felt a little “old” out there with the little kids, he said. Kind of a coincidence given his costume, LOL! Halloween 2015

Yesterday was a quiet day at home. I made Zuppa Toscana. Drew made a big pot of Marinara. We watched movies and were generally lazy. But today it’s to business! I have so much cleaning to do and things to take care of. I think I’m going to fortify myself with one more cup of coffee and then start tacking my to-do list!


A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

Hope you all have a fantastic start to your week!

Almost a Teen

So hard to believe that 12 years ago yesterday I became a mom for the first time! This 9lb 6oz. baby came into the world and forever changed our lives.
Jake - August 2002

Jake - Fall 2002

Jake’s a baby no more, that’s for sure! My middle schooler loves Doctor Who, Boy Scouts, Magic: the Gathering, composing songs, playing XBox, writing stories and drawing comics…. oh, and eating! I always thought that TV shows joked about teenage boys eating their parents out of house and home but I am learning how true it is!

Jake's 12th birthday

We started the day with presents, and the birthday boy’s breakfast. Then we went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse, where he got up on the saddle and the waitstaff did their thing. He didn’t seem the least embarrassed! (And yes, he did eat that entire burger – I felt full just looking at it!)

Jake's 12th birthday

Jake's 12th birthday

We picked up some Boston Creme donuts on the way home for a special birthday dessert. We are having parties all weekend, so everyone will enjoy cake then. Jake is just as happy with the Boston Cremes, I think 😉 They are his favorite.

Jake's 12th birthday

Next up: the teen years. I am so not ready for that so I think I’ll enjoy 12 as much as I can!


It’s hard to believe that 11 years ago today I was at the hospital, having just given birth to my very first baby. While my White Plains Hospital experience left a lot to be desired (thankfully I only delivered there once), we came home a few days later with a pudgy, 9 lb. 6 oz. bundle of love! It seems impossible that over a decade has come and gone, but yesterday Jake celebrated his 11th birthday.

We had a party with family over the weekend, and yesterday was pretty low-key. I guess he has aged out of our sugar cereal breakfast tradition. He asked for pancakes and sausage instead! Nevertheless, we still set up a special birthday place setting — confetti and all 🙂


He was thrilled with the frame pack we gave him! It will make those Boy Scout camping trips a little easier, I think. It should also last him well into college, if not longer!


Jake wanted to invite a friend over, which turned into an impromptu sleepover, LOL… Anyway, the kids had fun playing and I made Jake’s requested dinner of chili dogs, chips, pickles (that my dad made), and I made a salad because well, you need vegetables even on your birthday 😉 Instead of cake we opted for make-your-own sundaes.


It’s been amazing watching this kid grow from a colicky baby to a smart, imaginative, caring tween. Middle school starts in a few weeks, which is just crazy to me. Wasn’t I just enrolling him in pre-school?

jake at 11

As the saying goes, The days are long, but the years are short. So very true!

circus party prep (with resources)

balloon wreath

Lulu’s 2nd birthday is quickly approaching and I am frantically trying to finish up all the prep for decorations and planning. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve gathered so far. First, as shown above, I couldn’t resist making a balloon wreath. They were all over Pinterest and are so easy to make. You can find tutorials at How Does She and Two More Seconds. I’d like to add my two cents: this is a fun, inexpensive, and quick project. I completed in in under an hour. However, I would highly recommend using a thimble to push those floral picks into the wreath form. I did not and my finger was still hurting the next day. Total cost was under $7. I purchased the balloons at Dollar Tree (three packages) and the wreath form and picks at Hobby Lobby. They were much cheaper than Walmart or Michael’s.

On to lunch! I’ve finalized the menu and I’m keeping it super-simple and kid-friendly: hot dogs (I’ll use my large slow cooker to steam them since I have to make a few packages), mac & cheese, fruit salad, popcorn, and oriental cole slaw. For appetizers I’m planning on making antipasto skewers (not circusy, I know, but I can only have so much junky food) and a veggie tray. Beverages will be water, soda, lemonade, and double-berry sangria (obviously for the grown-ups, and a recipe I have yet to put together). I found these great popcorn bags to use! You can find them all over Etsy (overpriced, honestly). After extensive searching, the best price I could find for a reasonable number was from eBay member “frozendrinks.” It cost $5.65 (free shipping) for 50 bags.

circus party prep

circus party prep

As for the cake… yikes, I’m still deciding what flavor! I will probably do a white layer cake with strawberry filling and white icing. If I can’t find blue and white sprinkles, I’ll use blue and white M&Ms around the outer edge of the cake. Maybe (maybe) I’ll use some licorice whips to make a scalloped pattern along the sides. We’ll see about that. And since I am not a great cake decorator by any means, I’m not trying to make a design on the top of the cake, or even write “Happy Birthday.” Instead, I made a bunting that I will attach to skewers. This was another quick and easy project (also no-sew!). I used ribbon from my stash, fabric glue, and baker’s twine. I’m putting together a tutorial, but I’m sure you can easily figure it out yourself.

circus party prep

Finally… favors. As most people who plan a circus party do, I’m using popcorn containers from Target’s Dollar Spot to hold the goodies. I also have clown noses (purchased from eBay member lookwhatabargain for $5.99/dozen (free shipping)) and animal crackers ($1/box at Walmart). I need to figure out one or two more items.

circus party prep

circus party prep

circus party prep

I still hope to sew a fabric bunting to decorate the food table, but if I don’t get to it… I won’t beat myself up about it. Red and light blue streamers will suffice. I think things are coming together well, and I just hope that it doesn’t rain on the party day!

step right up!

I’ve always loved circus imagery. There’s something magical about the acrobats, the big top, even the creepy clowns. So as I was trying to plan Lulu’s 2nd birthday party, somehow I came upon some circus party ideas and decided that this was the theme for the day!

Luckily, my little peanut prefers that I hold and rock her while she naps, so that leaves me with a solid hour and a half of surfing time when I can research ideas. Already my inspiration file is full! I think this just might be both the prettiest and the easiest party I’ve ever pulled off (aside from our wedding). The food will be simple and reminiscent of the circus of course: hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn. I’ll add fruit salad and a nice veggie tray so there’s something at least a little healthy. The color scheme will be red and light blue (I prefer the vintage look to the crazy bright colors). And this gives me the opportunity to finally sewing some pennants! I’ll use them as party decorations and then I can hang them in Lulu’s room (as I’d originally planned to do).

I’m early in the planning stages, so you can come along for the ride. I’ll be sharing photos, links, and ideas as I come up with them. Circus and carnival parties seems to be quite popular now, and why wouldn’t they be? It’s such a fun, happy way to celebrate!