Best of Halloween: Bell Family Style

The women behind Bell Family Company are taking a stroll down memory lane and sharing their favorite Halloween memories this week. From country to city style trick-or-treating, and DIY costumers – there’s bound to be a story that will take you back to your favorite Halloween.

Lindsay Bell, Founder & Owner

My favorite Halloween memory was last year’s trick-or-treat in our new neighborhood. It was just like what you’d hope for after watching your millionth Halloween movie. The local police mark off the street so that no traffic can get through – making it safe for all to walk – and then crazy town is born (in a good way)! Thousands of trick-or-treaters roam the area, and parents are decked out in costume along with their kids. Almost every house on the road participates, with some homes going all out with decorations, spooky music, open bar on the porch for Mom & Dad, and the list goes on. I can’t wait for this year!

Lindsay’s two little boys in their Halloween best.

Meredith Hamler, Sitter Services Manager

My best memory of Halloween is that every year up until I was about 13-years-old, my grandma and I would go to the fabric store and pick out a pattern of the fabric I wanted, and then we would make my costume together.

Meredith and her Grandmother’s homemade costume making.

Lauren Kruk, Nanny Services Manager

I always loved dressing up for Halloween! My hair has been very blonde my whole life, and for one Halloween, my mom had me dress as an Indian and sprayed my hair black. No one knew who I was at first! It was fun, but messy! We had a great neighborhood with a ton of kids, so trick-or-treating was always an adventure walking around the block.

Lauren (feat. her hairdresser mom) in her Indian costume.

Christine Bell, Recruitment & Retention

There is one vivid memory of Halloween as a mom of 5, piling the kids in the car in full dress, trying not to smash anyone’s costume or get it caught in the door. Trick-or-treating in the country meant driving in the dark from driveway to driveway, stopping long enough to open the doors and let the witches, scarecrows, cheerleaders or whatever other costume I could creatively throw together, out to run across someone’s yard to collect their treats.

We had Halloween’s of all kinds in northeast Ohio – rain, snow, heat – it was always a grab bag. Perks of a country Halloween: households with insight gave out large candy bars and individual bags of candy to these very special Halloween ghouls.

Chris’s 5 kiddos on Halloween night, 1992.

Courtney Garvey, Sitter Services Coordinator

One of my favorite Halloween memories is my first Halloween with my kids. It was so fun dressing them up; we were the Three Little Pigs and my husband was the Big Bad Wolf! I love everything about Halloween in general and now so do my daughters, so it makes the whole experience that much better!

Courtney and her twin daughters dressed as the
Three Little Pigs.

Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media

Trick-or-treating always involved teaming up with my best friend to wander the development that a lot of my classmates lived in. The best years were the years we thought of a good group costume: my favorite being when we went as Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. Shoutout to my friend’s grandmother who worked tirelessly to knit our costumes!

After trick-or-treating we’d always pour our candy buckets out on the living room floor and trade pieces back and forth until it was time to go home.

Taylor and her friend’s dressed as Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs in middle school.

Fall Happenings Around NYC

Festivals, markets, and all of the pumpkin-themed fun possible. We searched around for some fall events in and around NYC that would be great for a family-fun day! Browse through our list, plan your adventure and tag us in your photos on Facebook, so we can get in on the fun too!

Harvest Homecoming
When: October 20, 2019 (11 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Where: Brooklyn Botanical Garden
About: Discover an old-school fall foliage festival in the heart of Brooklyn—complete with hay rides, carnival games, music, and more! Local cider makers and kombucha brewers offer tastings, a farmers’ market features heritage apples from local orchards, and kids can debut their Halloween costumes in a high-energy drum parade.

Scary Bazaar
When: October 27, 2019 (10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.)
Where: Grand Bazaar NYC
About: Grand Bazaar NYC transforms for Halloween into a “Scary Bazaar”. Expect to be greeted by creepy crawly and ghostly decorations, and explore the 140+ spooky vendors – many in costume – indoors and outdoors. There will be a fantastic selection of scary sweet treats from artisanal food vendors. Get your scare on and come out for a fun day for the whole family and maybe uncover unearthly finds!

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
When: October 3-31, 2019 and every weekend in November
Where: Croton-On-Hudson, NY
About: Witness an army of more than 7,000 glowing pumpkins in the tristate area’s most spirited Halloween happening, It’s also one of the best and easiest day trips from NYC!

Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla
When: October 30, 2019 (4 p.m.-7 p.m.)
Where: Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues)
About: Celebrate the Halloween season in Central Park. Listen to ghost stories, check out a costume parade and get creative by carving a pumpkin. After the festivities, the Central Park Conservancy will partake in a traditional Pumpkin Flotilla, where 50 gourds (possibly your creation) will take a sail across the Harlem Meer at twilight.

Written by Taylor Bell, Social Media & Marketing

Revamp of the Packed Lunch

Packing lunches can become mundane. As I’m the one packing it, I want to make it more fun for both my sons and me!

There is a wide variety of lunch box options today. We use two different types: a cooler fold up one and a Tupperware one with separate sections to save on plastic bags and make it easy to eat.

There are so many allergies to consider when packing – our schools provide a list of what is not permitted – so I keep that top of mind when grocery shopping and packing.

I try to mix it up daily. I make sure it is balanced; a meat, veggie or fruit, a healthy carbohydrate and then a special treat. I’ll throw in a love note that my son can’t read yet too.

Easy protein options: Chicken apple sausage (I make it the night before), beef jerky packs (I found at Costco) organic pepperoni, and humus with crackers is a hit, too.

Fruits: I’ll cut up anything and put it in Tupperware, or buy the Dole mandarin oranges or dried fruits (mango, raisins, etc.). If I’m in a hurry I’ll pack a fruit or veggie pouch.

Veggies: I’ll make broccoli, carrots or peas the night before and pack in Tupperware, or cut up cucumbers.

Dairy: Cheese or yogurt are my go-to’s. Don’t forget the spoon!

Special treat: We’ll make cookies the night before, or get a variety of fruit snacks. My boys also like Lara bars.

My 18mo-old enjoying the hummus life.

Written by Lindsay Bell, Founder & Owner

The Why & How of Spring Cleaning

I have a confession. I’m one of those maniacally organized people who, in spite of a demanding job and two little ones, cannot sleep when the house hasn’t been returned to order. My house is organized. There. I admit it. My containers match, I fastidiously use a label maker and you know  what, I love a good surface wipe. But, even though my house is pretty organized most of the  time, I still get that urge to turn the place upside down and go all Container Store on it every April. Why?! Trust me, I do not need another single thing to do. And, every year when I’m knee  deep in a pile of stuff while both of my kids nap (I know what’s WRONG with me) I think –  WHY?! Why do I feel compelled, driven even, to participate in full blown spring cleaning  whenever the tulips pop?

Turns out there are strong cultural roots pulling us towards trashing our homes only to immediately set them right again when the sun starts shining. This practice is shared around the world, supported by biology and part of deep rooted American traditions. In the Jewish faith the  house is rigorously cleaned in anticipation of Passover and Christian faiths suggest various cleaning rituals starting on lent and throughout the days leading up to Easter. Iranian New Year, Nowruz, falls on the first day of spring and dictates a thorough house cleaning too. For the agnostic among us, longer, sunnier days mean less melatonin fogging our brains, and less  melatonin means more available energy. And for the history buffs, during the long winter frontier families’ homes would become covered with soot from the fires used for cooking and heat.

When the weather was finally warm enough to open the windows these homes got a through scrub down to remove that soot layer.

Now that I’m convinced spring cleaning isn’t just me killing time I don’t have, I’m going to break down how you can make it happen this spring in spite of all of the other things demanding your time and attention (because you know you want to…).

Set Your Goals
Pick one or two priority areas that need your attention the most and define your goals for the space. For example, if you chose your entryway, your goal might be getting out the door in the morning faster. If you’ve chosen your kids toy room, maybe your goal is to bring older toys to light again. By defining your goal you will automatically align your actions with your desired end result.

Out, Sort, Distribute – Repeat
Pull everything out of the space you’ve chosen and set it out so you can see as much of it as possible. Sort your belongings into 3 piles, Keep, Donate, Lives Elsewhere. Organize the Keep pile in a way that supports your goal. Ferry the Lives Elsewhere stuff to its rightful home and  drop those donations off early in the season so those who need them most can take advantage  of your generosity.

Keep It Simple
If you have a bunch of time on your hands, sure, go full on Marie Kondo, but if you have limited  time and competing priorities what sparks joy for you might be getting that one cabinet in order so you don’t have sippy cups raining down upon you every time you open it. And you know  what? That totally counts. Keep it simple and do what works for you.

Our team of expert, skilled and savvy GYST Assistants had a few things to say on the topic too. GYST Assistants are excellent spring cleaning partners and even better than doing it yourself is  delegating to an expert. GYST Assistants will help you set up organizational systems that are  efficient, effective and easy to maintain and Bell Family Company families enjoy exclusive access to GYST Assistants on a project basis. Give us a call at (917) 912-9206 or say hi@gystplease.com to learn more. Our goal is to set our clients free to focus on what matters  most.

About GYST
GYST sources, selects, educates and retains top personal and executive assistants and offers clients a flexible, high level assistant experience in a program optimized for long term success. Learn more at www.gystplease.com.

A special thanks to Brooke Stone, Founder and CEO of GYST, who shared her exploration of spring cleaning, organization tips and advice from GYST Assistants.

Simple Summer Fun!

Now that burnout is an official medical diagnosis, I think it’s a good time to bring some simplicity back into our lives this summer.

There is always the temptation of the zillion great summer camp options available. I’ll admit I signed up for a week long one, one for each of my kids with the school they will be attending in the fall. The intention was to practice getting used to that school so drop off in the fall would be a breeze for both kid and me… mostly me.

This simple summer phenomena is not genius. It was how I was raised and probably how most of you and your parents were raised. With how complicated life seems to be today, here is what we will be doing to bring simplicity back. Beware, your kids may be bored at times, but I think that’s good! That’s when creativity is born!

  1. Set up a safety town outside in the driveway. Grandma sent kid size street signs that are easy to set up and take down.
  2. Host a lemonade stand and have your child make flyers to drop off at the neighbor’s house (this is the entrepreneur in me).
  3. Swim, swim, swim! At home or a local pool (invite friends over, play pool games, etc.).
  4. Play in the back yard. Sit toys or objects out and let the kids use their imagination to build and play.
  5. Set up different areas in the house with different activities (e.g., front yard is sidewalk chalk, media room is trains, office is reading).
  6. Go on a walk.
  7. Go to a splash pad.
  8. Pick vegetables at your garden or a local garden.
  9. Water plants and teach your child about taking care of the environment.
  10. Help clean up and make it a game.
  11. Help mom cook! Teach your child about measuring cups, measuring spoons and practice the names of the ingredients.
  12. Visit Grandma and Grandpa for bonding time.
  13. Take a nap or have downtime/rest.

Written by our Founder & Owner, Lindsay Bell