Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Tonight was the premiere of the octopus.

A first decided that is what he wanted to be this year, with G soon wanting that as well. I sewed these costumes - and let me tell ya - making stuffed octopus costumes with stuffed headed hoods, stuffed tentacles, suckers, and hand holes was interesting. They weren't perfect - but hey, it was dark, it is for one night, they looked adorable!

It was a great choice though, as stuffed layers of fleece with hoods made for cozy costumes on a very cold and windy night. Just as we were getting ready to head out to start, one of A's best friends came by so we hurried to join them. Trick or treating with friends is just more fun...

...Until A is sprinting 2 houses ahead of everyone, G is sobbing on someones porch when they only give him ONE candy out of their bowl, and I then have to carry a 35 pound octopus the rest of the way home. BUT - they had a lot of fun, passed several friends along the way, saw lots of neighbors they know, and I'm amazed a 2 year old made it that long before just being too tired.

I couldn't get either one of the boys to be still long enough in a good position for a photo to do the costume justice - but they really did look CUTE! :)

Hope you all had a fun safe night.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

autumn leaves.

Today was a beautiful fall day. Sunny, breezy, and cool but not cold. Today was our autumn leaf day - and the boys had a great time. We did 3 simple crafts using leaves we collected from our teeny tree, and read a few books related to fall!

This morning we collected leaves from the ground in our yard. Several of them we put into the pages of a magazine and weighed down with books while we had breakfast and prepared our materials.
The rest of the leaves were placed on a baking pan and put into the oven on LOW heat (I warmed mine up to the lowest temp, then turned it off before adding leaves) for less than 10 minutes. I didn't want to cook them, just dry them. Once out of the oven we crumbled them easily into 2 bowls.

First we painted a tree base onto watercolor paper. I helped (obviously) since my boys are little. We used black watercolors. We also got the rest of our supplies ready. Glue, glue brushes, plates, blank cards, watercolor paper, and glitter glue. While the watercolors dried we read the first of our two fall books.

We came back to our base and the boys squeezed glue all over the tree. They then took the crumbled leaves and sprinkled them all over the glue. Very cool effect (oh, and I got the idea for the cool crumbled leaf craft here - I just modified it to our supplies and ages).

We took our pressed leaves out of the pages for our next craft. The boys painted glue on the back of the leaves, and then applied them to blank cards. They finished them with a light coating of glue (ModPodge would be fine too) on the top to seal it/keep them flat.

They of course wanted to keep gluing and gluing so I was ready with a piece of heavy paper for them to apply the bigger leaves to. They did the same process as for the cards, but also mixed glitter glue in with the regular glue so that when they coated the top there was a little rusty colored sparkle.

While everything dried we had a snack and read our second fall book. The crafts were easy and quick and the leaves were from our own yard. AND they now have a few cards to mail to family that they made, and a few artsy pieces to hang up!

The books we read today with our crafts were:

Why do leaves change color? by Betsy Maestro

It's Fall by Linda Glaser

We also got to play soccer in the yard, draw with sidewalk chalk, bake pumpkins, and work on the Halloween costumes! What a day!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dancing 'round the Jack O'Lanterns.

We have been carving our pumpkins slowly but steadily - one or two a day. All of my late night work means my carpal tunnel is crazy-who knew that working late every night on a computer + carving thick pumpkins with the same right hand meant paralysis? Well, perhaps I exaggerate a tiny bit. I discovered that as long as I don't need that right hand to also write, drive, or feed myself I'm doing OK.

We have carved several jack o'lanterns and have 2 or 3 biggies to go. The boys love it - determining expression and mood, shapes, placement, size, unique features. Tonight we had to "test" a bunch of them together after we completed 2 more. The photo itself is not that stunning - glowing pumpkins on a dark night.

What you cannot see is my two little guys prancing around in the dark hamming it up for the camera taking photos in pitch blackness but for the glow of the candles. I lightened a few up and saw them--running, spinning, smiling, posing. Here is one of them:

The darkness coming earlier means the boys have been outside several nights in the dark before bedtime. The love it. We had the telescope out a few evenings ago and they could look and see details on the moon. They see stars. They look at the moon. Light their pumpkins. And dance around, all snuggled up in PJ's and warm fuzzy robes.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Photos of the Day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

CSA Box This Week. The end is near...

Well, it is almost over. We have only one more CSA pick up after today. My seasons move with the CSA box, the outdoor Farmer's Market, and the U-Picks. We are very lucky to live where we can continue to visit the Farmer's Market throughout the winter and find much, much more than just soap and pickles well into the dark cold winter months. But it isn't the same as the feeling of abundance that comes into this area all summer. I am not a hot weather person at all, and really love the autumn coolness and cold nights and always look forward to the snow. But I do feel a bit of nostalgia at the end of each growing season.

Sure - I will have hints of summer flavor from my freezer and basement all winter. I will still get our dairy and meat from someone I can chit-chat with. And I'll still visit the winter Farmer's Market every week or two for those items I cannot find at the local coop. But for now, I'll enjoy these last few weeks of autumn and every bite that goes with it.

This week in our box:
Lettuce, arugula, spinach, hakuri turnips, red radishes, brussel sprout stalk, red cabbage, celeriac, acorn squash, parsley root.

Green Halloween.

Halloween is one of those holidays that is fun for kids, but makes me uncomfortable about the junk candy and the garbage. I know my boys want to be able to trick or treat with the hundreds of kids roaming the neighborhood, but after sorting their haul, there is nothing left which is edible for a 4 & 2 year old (not to mention lead toys, and choking hazards), and oy the trash. I have seen a few websites that have some great ideas for alternate sweets, fair trade goodies, and lots more.

Check them out here:

Green Lemonade>>Tricks for (Green) Treats

Have a Happy, Green Halloween from ecochildplay

Green Halloween

Tricks and Treats for Halloween from The Sierra Club

Have a ghoulishly green Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Drilling pumpkins.

A is at the age where the idea of carving pumpkins for our fall decorations is very exciting. Sticking his hands into a smelly goopy dark mess to scoop out seeds, well, that is not. And he is old enough to want to DO IT, but not old enough to actually use a sharp knife to cut out holes, nor does he have the strength to try. SO. What is a 4 year old to do? Drill, drill, drill.

We did our first carving of one small pumpkin from our yard (he couldn't wait any longer!). I had to do the scooping -- as both boys made faces at the goop, held their noses, and complained loudly about any renegade seeds that fell to the floor. A then got to use his hand drill to drill holes. Lots of them. He did a nice job organizing them into evenly spaced lines following the ribs along the sides, and counting how many he did per row.

When it was done, he just had to wash off the bits and pieces, and add a glow stick. Voila!

Crafts, crafts, crafts.

I bumped into someone I know when we were out and about the other day, and she commented that she was surprised we hadn't done any Halloween crafts this month. Well, we have, we have just been busy with lots of things so I haven't been posting them! Here are just a few of the fun craft projects we did so far this month (and thanks to grandma who surprised us with craft supplies!).

Beeswax window decor. We took sheets of beeswax, used a cookie cutter and hammer to cut out the shapes, punched a hole in the top, and hung it up with a ribbon on our curtain rod. When the sun shines in the warm smell of beeswax fills the room. MMMMm.

Grandma surprised us with a stack of craft supplies - and the stack of Halloween paper was used to make these window decorations. The boys decorated and glued paper Jack O Lanterns and we taped them in the front window. They are cute!

The boys embellished and decorated a few scrapbook pages to give to our craft supplies benefactor of the month. There has to be some room on there for her to put some photos of 2 sweet boys picking pumpkins!

I posted this and the boys looked at it and reminded me (heartily) that I forgot the felt fall banner they made!!!!!! OH MY!!! I guess some projects were OK to leave out, but this one was not. So. We also cut and decorated felt fall banner pieces, sewed them onto a ribbon, and hung across our curtain rod!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hayrides and Pumpkins.

Today we ventured out to a farm for a hayride (or, tractor ride). We had gone to a different farm a few weekends back for cooking pumpkins + some fall decoration but, no hayride. A has been asking and asking so today we went! This year we have been searching for small, uncrowded farms which are close to home. Today was another new farm for us - Anderson's Pleasant Patch Pumpkins. It is only 8 miles from home (well, 8.3).

It was perfect - NO crowd at all, friendly people, beautiful scenery. The boys loved it. G even went into the "haunted barn" all by himself, while A stood outside the room and would not budge! :)

We heard from the farmer that all of the rain this year almost decimated the pumpkin crop - with acres rotting. We didn't mind - there were plenty of perfect pumpkins just for us.

On the way home we stopped by a nice biking/walking trail and went for a walk. The leaves and scenery were beautiful, and the wind was so loud in the trees it was crazy.

Towards the end of our walk we saw a snake which had been run over by a bike or something, and the boys were able to sit and study it for awhile. Another child stopped to look too, and the boys all looked it over, talked about it, and then buried it with gravel. When it was all covered, they got up and we were done.

Oh, and the BEST picture from today? This is definitely a classic:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Caramelized Apple Tart...mmmmmm...

The local foods potluck picnic today was a great time - good food, great weather, fun conversation, happy kids. I posted last night with what I was making, and today, here is the first of two recipes.

Caramelized Apple Tart with Cinnamon Custard

(recipe from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America's Farmers' Markets, from Deborah Madison)


For the Apples:
3 apples (I wanted super apple, so I used 6)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

For the Batter:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra
1/2 cup sugar
3 medium eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan. Peel and core the apples, then slice them into thin wedges. Melt the butter in a wide nonstick skillet, add the apples, and sprinkle them with the sugar. Cook over high heat, occasionally flipping the apples, until they start to caramelize, then reduce the heat to medium. Keep a close eye on the apples, turning them frequently so they don't burn. This will take about 15 minutes in all. Turn off the heat.

To make the batter, cream the butter and sugar in a mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and salt, then stir in the flour. Smooth the batter into the tart pan with a spatula, pushing it up the sides to make a rim. Lay the apples over the batter.

Mix the ingredients for the cream together, then pour it over the apples. Set the tart on a sheet pan and bake until the crust is golden and starting to pull away from the sides, about 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

I altered a few things to keep it mostly *local* for the potluck. I used fresh ground whole wheat flour for the crust - yum. I substituted maple syrup for sugar. And in WI, finding local eggs, cream, butter and apples is easy. It was spectacular. And, a drizzle of our home made boiled cider on the plate before eating -

Friday, October 19, 2007

Local Foods.

Today was a happily busy Friday.

Tomorrow we are meeting several other families from my online mom bookclub at a park for a local foods potluck picnic. This month our book selection was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and we are having this potluck to tie in with the book, and also to get out in this great fall weather and meet face to face after only chatting about books online for who knows how long. It looks like it will be a perfect day.

I planned on making several things - figuring one won't work out. So far so good though! The boys helped with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. in the kitchen today, much to the frustration of my husband, but they did a great job. They ground flour, sifted, peeled/cored apples, scrubbed vegetables - they made a mess. What fun!

A sneak peek of what we are making?
--Roasted Root Vegetables & Mashed Squash with Red Wine Sauce
::Includes locally grown herbs, carrots, brussel sprouts, radishes, beets, squash, garlic & flour. Also using local red wine & butter.

--Caramelized Apple Tart with Cinnamon Custard
:: Includes local apples, eggs, flour, cream, butter, and maple syrup combined with a few extra spices.

--Whole Wheat Bread
::Includes local wheat, honey, and milk. I'm taking this to go along with the apple butter I made a few weeks ago.


Should be a fun day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

CSA Box This Week.

My son picked the lovely background fabric for the photo today.

Today in our box we have: lettuce, arugula, leeks, carrots, brussel sprouts, green cabbage, red beets, beauty heart radish, red kuri squash, italian parsley!

Our CSA finishes for the season at the end of October. Another year passes...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Look mom, no hands!

For those of you who live in the area, the photos are from the new Dream Park in SP that everyone has been talking about. For everyone else, here are the photos of the day --- including my 4 year old hanging upside down, no hands! :)


Black Cats, Jack O Lanterns, Spooky Ghosts.

Well, I have been on deadline and so haven't posted since Monday. I have a TON of stuff I wanted to blog about...some of our kitchen adventures (the boys made from scratch fettuccine!), some food preservation, some holiday crafts. But I'll have to leave that for another day. Right now I'm excited because I was looking at The Toymaker website and ogling all of the amazingly cool and funky Halloween paper crafts.

Oh yes, the paper art is always so amazing there, and Halloween is my fav. From spinny jack O lantern pickers to spooky paper banners, from candy corn boxes to ghost shows, from treat bags to bookmarks. Plenty of paper fun to last until October 31 (well, and beyond!) . I have a bunch printed for tomorrow!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day .... More Voices.

I have enjoyed reading the posts for Blog Action Day today - particularly all of those interesting mamas whose blogs I read regularly! :)

Here are some links to what others posted (if you posted for this event today too leave me a comment!):

Yurts N Dogs (great entry Rohnan & Keegan!)

Living Alaska


Being Bugsie

The Iron Garden