Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween!

Happy Halloween!

What a fun day. A's jedi costume turned out super cute. It actually lasted through karate games ("Kicks or Treats" at his karate school - fun!), trick or treating, and a get-together at home afterwards. The cloak has a hood too, which was on for most of the evening. Verrrry jedi.

G, well...As I suspected, after his insistence on being a ghost, G changed his mind. He is 3 after all. Nothing could go on his body or over his head. We had a moment of octopus costume from last year, but then it was decided that G was going to be G. He did wear a big fancy wizard hat to trick or treat in though - perfect!

This evening before friends arrived, the boys visited with all of the neighbors on our block who were outside. One neighbor was skooting throughout the neighborhood with streamers on his back passing out coins. It was still very warm outside (on Halloween! we usually freeze!) and pretty light, so everyone was outside enjoying the weather.

The boys had fun trick or treating - with 4 spunky boys out together it made it just that much more exciting. I think this is the first Halloween we didn't have to come home to warm up! Fun night.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

See, I knew I had enough time...

Woo hoo! Today we got a lot more done on the costumes. We pinned and cut and sewed. Only a few loose ends and tidbits to finish for tomorrow. See? Pleeeeeeeenty of time. A will be a jedi, and G will be a ghost (if he'll actually wear it after asking for it ;))!

We have people joining us Halloween eve so that the kids can trick or treat together. We are lucky to live in a neighborhood full of families and kids and where so many people know each other - so even just walking down the sidewalk is exciting as everyone runs into neighbors and chats, those answering the doors see if they can guess who is inside the costumes, the sidewalks are full of kids, and it is generally a fun, happy, busy evening! We will come back in to warm apple cider, good food, and perhaps even a Halloween special. The boys made a deal with me to trade in most of their collected candy for their favorite fair trade chocolates and some special goodies - things that they like since they don't usually like much at all from their bags (but costumes and trick or treating are too much fun to miss!). Should be a fun night. I plan to take lots of pictures - hope you do too!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Pronunciation: \prə-ˈkras-tə-ˌnāt, prō-\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): pro·cras·ti·nat·ed; pro·cras·ti·nat·ing
Etymology: Latin procrastinatus, past participle of procrastinare, from pro- forward + crastinus of tomorrow, from cras tomorrow
transitive verb : to put off intentionally and habitually
intransitive verb : to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

I know. I am procrastinating. I don't know what it is about sewing Halloween costumes. Maybe it is the sewing extravaganza from last Halloween that I'm remembering. The boys want to be more simple things this year, but still...I'm just nowhere near done.

It isn't like I haven't tried to start. But you know how procrastination is. There are so many other things to do. Things that "have" to be done. Like carving pumpkins. Like working in the garden (and watching the birds and the chipmunks).

Doing crafts with kids.

These cute kids - that distract me - they want to read, play, snuggle, have fun, do things.

Or what about all of those other things that are absolute musts. I mean, Sunday was chicken day after all, so we had to drive to the farm, pickup chickens, and then process them, make stock.

Then today was another scheduled farm pickup - my turn to drive down. Gotta go!

And what about all of those photos that just HAD to be taken. I just can't stop taking pictures!

And it gets dark so early now, and how can I sew when elaborate light saber dance performances are going on in the dark living room? It's too dark to sew anyway. And I can take pictures.

It doesn't help that I have allergies and a sinus infection. And, of course I need sprouts. Mmmmm, sprouts. s.p.r.o.u.t.s...

Oh, right. I still have two days left, right? I sketched the ideas out, had the boys lie down on the fabric and I drew where I want to cut - and actually have a ghost costume cut out! You see, that is progress.

I'll have time tomorrow (or maybe tomorrow night or even Friday). The sewing machine is too loud when the boys are in bed anyway, and I have to post to my blog, and of course mess with my iTunes needs to be just right, you know, so that it is the right mood to get the most work done.

Of course, with all that in mind, maybe it is not procrastination after all. Wikipedia states "Psychology researchers also have three criteria they use to categorize procrastination. They believe that procrastination must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying."

Well, maybe delaying, but certainly not needless, come on!

It also states "For an individual, procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt, the loss of personal productivity, the creation of crisis and the disapproval of others for not fulfilling one's responsibilities or commitments. "

Nope, definitely not me. Not procrastinating. I'm perfectly happy not sewing costumes!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Driller.

It is that time again. The time of hand drilling holes in pumpkins. A waits all year to drill this way. He can drill hundreds of holes in no time at all.

He has drilled only two jack'o'lanterns so far, but we have a few more saved to carve this week.

He'll be ready.

Friday, October 24, 2008

late october garden.

While the nights have been cold, we haven't had any hard freeze yet. So, while most of the heat loving plants are long gone, we still amazingly have a lot going on in our garden. As the sunflowers are picked clean by the goldfinches, we still have swiss chard, parsley, flowers, raspberries, chives, and many other goodies packed in with other interesting things like ornamental cabbage and millet (planted by Chipper, our resident chipmunk, all summer).

This weekend we do have some low temperatures coming along with rain and possibly snow, and if so, much of our greenery will be gone. We are going to go out today and tomorrow to cut the last bits of anything edible - bring in the brussel sprouts, dehydrate the rest of the parsley, cut all the last bits of chives and swiss chard and nasturtiums, and pluck those last sugary sweet raspberries. I also like to leave some things for the winter rather than rip everything out - they look lovely in the snow, and give the wildlife a few things to nibble on as it gets colder.

I do have one last spot where we are growing leeks, radishes, and spinach - which we will grow and pick as long as possible...just to give us that last hurrah of the garden.

While I know we won't get much (if any) snow, we often do get flurries at least once by Halloween. The boys are very excited and have been looking to the weather forecast to be sure they haven't yet changed their prediction. If we get any little flurries they will be greeted with open arms as we once again spin on this big rock into the next season.

More garden photos posted to Flickr...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

photos of the day.

enjoying fall!

Monday, October 20, 2008

air sculpture: falling leaves

The boys wanted to hang the waxed leaves (we made on Friday) from our dining room light fixture, but they wanted something to make it special. So, we rolled some air dry clay, cut out leaf shapes, let them dry, and then painted them before stringing them up as the center point of the "air sculpture" (as A calls it).

To get the leaves to hang just right we tied red twine to the ends and strung them up at varying heights. They said it feels like leaves are falling right in our dining room!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

beeswax craft.

We had a whole fun morning of beeswax on Friday. I have a box filled with 1 lb. beeswax blocks we got from a local beekeeper mama, and this was the perfect time to bring it out. Days are cooler, dark comes earlier, and there is nothing like the smell of melting beeswax and beeswax candles.

To get started, we first collected a bunch of beautiful red leaves from our backyard maple and pressed a whole bunch in our flower press for craft projects later.

We let the rest dry on the tablecloth (dewy morn) while we melted beeswax in the double boiler. While it was melting we got everything ready. We covered the table with paper, put water-repellent aprons on the boys, cut our wicks and got our small pots ready to pour wax into, and set out a heat-proof pie plate to hold the pot of wax. I chatted with A & G about what we needed to do to keep it safe (and clean).

When ready, I set the beeswax on the table in the pie plate, and as I held the pot the boys carefully dipped each leaf in the beeswax, and set down onto freezer paper to dry.

We then let the leaves dry - we have a few fun projects planned, so we made several dozen. We've made these before - they are so beautiful! We got the idea at In These Hills. Dawn made a nice mobile with hers this week.

We re-heated the wax again after the leaves were done, and then made dipped candles. Using a long wick, we dipped and dripped, dipped and dripped until each boy had a small beeswax taper. They are a little misshapen, but they burn just fine and the boys love that they made them.

For the last bit of wax, I poured it into prepped pots. To get those ready before we started, the boys painted the inside of 3" ceramic pots (small) with copper paint. I added a leaf and stripes on a few. We let the paint dry. We placed a small bit of special candle wax over the bottom drain hole to plug, and then put our pre-dipped wicks in place. I just needed to pour the remaining beeswax into the pots and we have votives! Nothing wasted, and many great projects completed with just one pound of beeswax!

We have a few ideas for those leaves, so stay tuned!

Friday, October 17, 2008

apple stamping.

This week we have been working on several fun craft projects. One was making jack'o'lantern stamps using apples as the stamps. We cut an apple in half, and carved out a face - leaving the seed area as the 'nose'. Using orange paint, we stamped onto watercolor paper.

After they dried, the boys painted on the faces into the white spaces, using whatever odd shapes the stamp gave as their guide.

We then cut them out, and the boys used them to decorate our dining room entrance.

What is cool about this is that there are so many variations you could do. I liked even the plain orange stamps without embellishment - they look great. A and G really enjoyed painting on the faces with the black paints, and thought they might want to do a version with glow in the dark paint as well. You could also use marker instead of paint for the faces. We were going to punch and string ours onto black fuzzy yarn to make a garland - but the boys decided they looked cool all around the arch! They would make nice window decorations or a mobile too.

For a few days in there the boys even used them to play 'cards'! Many interesting games were created. Fun!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

slowing down, part II.

It is funny. Just yesterday I was saying that slowing down could be a good thing. And then I fall down the garage steps and wrench my ankle (a little guy zipped around me just as I was stepping and I missed a whole step-crunch). Nothing really bad, but enough to slow me down!

Today was a perfect chilly sunny fall day with blue skies and fluffy clouds and gorgeous leaves.

After a morning of writing letters to friends, reading books, and making clay leaves, we went outside. We had a picnic at a local park and the boys climbed and played and ran. We picked up our CSA this afternoon and saw many tractors and combines both on and off the road. Tonight after dinner the boys rode their bikes in the dusk under a big beautiful orange moon, and then we put pumpkins and spiderwebs with little spiders all around our arbor before coming inside to warm up and play some board games by cozy lamp and candlelight. A nice fall day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

light the fire.

Ever since I hurt my back in August I have felt a little off. Behind. Not 100%. Tired. Sure, my house is decent and laundry is folded (although stacked on the bed until later), I'm still canning and preserving, doing crafts and projects with the kids, going on field trips with them and working, and, and...whew. It just wears ya out! I have always had endless energy and this back business A lot. I think that can be a good thing, though.

So while I feel like I have so many recipes I haven't posted yet, or several craft projects that I haven't written about yet, or things I haven't been working on, I'm OK with that. Life is good. What is beginning to get me twitchy is the thought that Halloween is getting close and I haven't sewn the boys costumes yet. Cough, cough. Or that the holidays are coming (really) in a few months and I haven't even started making gifts yet, not to mention only having a rough idea of things and no lists or materials yet.

So this post is to light my fire. Kids costumes are sketched and I need to get my sewing machine working again (uh, yeah) and will have those out in no time.

And the holiday plans - I have an outline of ideas in my head and will be posting some gift making ideas and lists soon. For the last 3 years I have chosen a main theme for batch-work of gifts and then put it all together based on each recipient. We have made embroidered felt items (checkbooks, biz card holders, wallets, etc.), home made soap, hand poured candles, recipe boxes, scarves, sewn book bags, and this year will once again be a new direction, I think.

As the weather cools, the rain comes, and the garden beds down for the winter, I always feel rejuvenated to come inside and do more handwork and get ready for all of the holidays (and birthdays) to come. We are nearing the end of the biggest part of the canning/drying/gardening extravaganza of late summer and early fall, and things will be slowing down just in time. I'll be ready, really.

Monday, October 13, 2008

minneapolis in full color.

We had a nice 3-day weekend in Minneapolis. While my husband was stuck inside at a conference all day every day, the boys and I explored parks, beaches, nature centers and more - anything to be outside! The weather was nice and the fall colors were just breathtaking. OK, we did do a little of the inside stuff on Friday evening when my husband was finished...a little of this,

and a little of this.

But the rest of the time was spent wandering. We visited my favorite natural toys and crafts store. We discovered the most awesome park system with trails and playgrounds and a gorgeous nature center which had amazing 3-D colorful murals of animals in their habitats - from forest to prairie to wetlands (photos cannot do it justice).

We went on nature walks where the aspens were raining their golden leaves onto our heads as the boys spun and danced. We saw many snakes. We have gone hiking and walking hundreds (if not more) times in Wisconsin and have only seen two snakes. In a (busy) nature park in Minneapolis, over only 20 minutes, we saw more snakes than the boys will ever hope to see again in their lifetimes. Excitement, let me tell ya. Ahem.

We wandered from local cafes to neighborhood parks and played and played.

Each hike we went on had more and more color - it was so beautiful.

I am happy to say we spent much of the weekend hanging out, walking in the vibrant leaves without shoes (well, but for the snake part!), getting dirty, taking walks through neighborhoods, and just enjoying autumn in full color. Part of that was because it is just too tough for one adult to take two small spunky kids to busy public places on a weekend - and part of that was realizing that we didn't have to *do* anything but explore and have fun and enjoy each other. And THAT made it a special trip to remember!

I'm going to post some more photos over at Flickr...what a fun weekend!