Thursday, October 27, 2016

National Pumpkin Day

I thought I was done with the pumpkin related posts.  I think every post from October has involved them.  You are probably thinking, "enough with the pumpkins, lady!"  BUT...Justin informed me, and I saw elsewhere, that yesterday was National Pumpkin Day.  I don't know who came up with that but I guess it's our kind of day.  Also, we carved pumpkins on Tuesday night.  We haven't done it since Ben was a baby and we lived in our old house.  Here are a few pictures of that cute evening. 

I always thought it was funny how he was straining to get at the pumpkin...and probably the knife as well. 

Which baby is it?  The only way to tell is by the clean and pristine condition of the high chair!

And there is that blasted carving knife...we looked everywhere for the carving kit and we couldn't find it anywhere.  Sigh. 

Fast forward four years:  The scene is a much more chaotic and messy and cluttered house that we just can't seem to stay on top of, where three kids regularly destroy all progress we make.  To clear the table, we had to chisel off playdoh, sweep away legos, remove various drinking vessels and pick up all those green plastic wine glasses from the floor (thanks Milo!). 

You might be wondering if those are plastic Easter eggs in front of Tessa.  Yes, they are, and they are filled with various "treasures" that she carries around with her. 

Milo was restrained in the high chair, which is coated in an impermeable grime.  We gave up on the cute brown ABC's cover long ago. 

He has is baseball jammies on and just wants to settle down and watch the World Series (yeah right). 

Ben designed the pumpkin on the left based on the bean filled stuffed one we have as a decoration.  It's on the floor 90% of the time but's for the kids anyway, right?  Tessa chose the shapes of the eyes and nose.  She likes diamonds. 

The matches and candle portion was a bit scary but I think they understand not to touch now.  There are many fancy templates for carving pumpkins but I think the standard look is just as effective and fun. 

We also roasted seeds this year.  I haven't done this in years.  I think the last time I roasted seeds was ten years ago in my law school apartment.  We had an acorn squash a few nights ago and when I was looking for recipes a commenter online said she also roasted the seeds so I tried it and they were pretty good even without any seasoning.  The kids loved them too and have been asking me to make seeds again (like it's so easy!) so I was excited about this.  Justin did the gross part of cleaning the slime while I was sawing away at the jack-o-lanterns. 

I seasoned half with some greek seasoning I bought at a home party the other half with traditional Lowry's.  This picture was taken after they soaked overnight in salt water.  That is a key step and some recipes say to boil them because it cooks the inner seed and makes them crunchier. I didn't do it and they are still pretty crispy. They are so delicious.  I almost want to hide them from the kids so I can have all of this rare once a year treat for myself.  Maybe we can hollow out a few more pumpkins and make more after Halloween.  We have enough! 

So, enough about pumpkins.  I promise.  There might be a few in the background of our Halloween pictures next week but I promise not to talk about them!

Ben has his school Halloween party this morning.  I assembled the same exact treat I did last year, which is tootsie roll pops covered in tissue to look like ghosts.  It's an old craft from my childhood and those pops are allergy safe so its a win all around! 

He was excited to wear his police officer costume.  He's been talking about it for months.  He was disappointed I wouldn't let him take his handcuffs because they aren't supposed to bring weapons and I thought handcuffs might cross the line and cause problems or distraction.  He got over it quick and I'm sure he will forget all about it once he starts playing with his buddies.  I sure wish some Reece's peanut butter cups would sneak around the allergen rules but at least there will be some Kit Kats that I can sneak and possibly some gummies. 

It was warm out last night so the kids played outside for awhile and I plopped Milo in the favorite car since I didn't put his shoes on.  He loved it just like they all do. 

He seemed to be almost TOO content...I soon realized why.  The kids like to fill the cup holder with the sand that builds up in the gutter and in the man holes and he was eating it.  Hmmmmm...great. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Crazy Pumpkin House

We have managed to distribute almost all of our pumpkins.  We ended up doing three pickings and Justin drove a heaping load home along I-94 in the box of his pickup and it actually went fine although I didn't want to be driving behind him...

We shared with the neighbors, friends I know from my MOPs group, friends from Ben's preschool, and Justin's co-workers.  On the day he drove the loaded box to work a United Way person was there and we have donated a large quantity to them.  With what was left, we decided to do this:

Is this weird?  Kind of.  Is it awesome?  Yes.  For sure. 

And it gets better!  If you want a tutorial, here it is:  Get a drill and some metal posts or rods and drill holes in the top and bottom of the pumpkin and stack them on.  Easy!  And they will remain appropriate decorations until Thanksgiving! It will be fun cleaning them up when Christmas time comes but TOO BAD.  I learned last year that the arm on the garbage truck is stronger than I thought it could ever be!  We might have to stagger our dumpster filling over several weeks this year. 

A nice picture with fall colors in the tree and in the grass. 

Remember when I said that several people who took pumpkins were going to bake with them?  Well, this morning a preschool friend presented me with a pumpkin pie!  Made with fresh pumpkin! 

Oh yeah.  I need to get some cool whip first.  Justin is going to love this.  He loves pie. He used to have pie for his birthday cake.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Carrot Processing

On Monday we pulled up what was left of the garden (pretty much everything, in a wilted and frost killed state) and dug the carrots.  Digging carrots is always fun because you have no idea what you will be getting.  We had two different varieties.  One was long skinny carrots and the other was our usual huge sugar-beet like carrots.  There were some good ones this year.  We filled one of those big plastic tubs with rope handles that are usually used for toy storage (the one we have is mine from childhood and I used it for stuffed animals) to the top.  I didn't get any good pictures because we were in a hurry.  Justin's co-worker has a garden across the alley and we were both tilling with a rented tiller that had to be returned soon and it also started raining as we were finishing.  Oh, and I had Milo in the stroller and I gave him a bottle of milk to feed himself and he managed to pull the nipple out of the ring and dump milk all over himself and the stroller.  Here is a picture of a small portion of them peeled and ready to slice. 

Here is the final product ready for the freezer! 

They sure are good and fresh tasting.  It was a very intense peeling and slicing session.  When I was slicing I could feel the nerve damage in my hand tingling from when I spent hours scraping glue and 1970's era carpet padding off the wood floor in our old house which is what I am doing in my picture on the side of the blog!  This year, I am happy to report that my hands didn't get dyed orange.  My finger nails look a bit off but that's all. 

Speaking of orange, here is our "crazy pumpkin people" display in front of our house!  If there were any deer in town they would be partying here every night!

It slipped my mind with all the carrot madness but I missed Allan's adoption anniversary.  I believe it was October 15th.  I know it was a Thursday and I had to look back at a calendar to find the date. 

He was so tiny.  Look at that little cute kitten!  And look at that relic of a computer and ancient looking Internet search engine page.  I wish I could read what I was searching for. 

Ahhh, a pristine living room, with only a cat scratching post to clutter it seems like a different world!

Monday, October 17, 2016


Milo recently turned one, which is a traditional time to get some professional photos taken.  I had them done for Ben but not for Tessa ( I had a photo session with a photographer when she was seven months old and also when she was ten months old we had a family session at the farm) and I kept thinking about it.  I didn't want to pay the price for an expensive photographer like we did for Milo's newborn pictures.  I saw an email from the JCPenney studio with the current discounts and decided to go for it. 

I wasn't sure about JCP.  I went there for Ben's one year old pictures and the photographer on schedule that day was seriously obnoxious.  Like she had this deranged laugh and laughed about everything.  Also, the background selection was mostly made up of the old fashioned "dappled sheet" variety that most people are over by now.  They were really slow with releasing the pictures to me even though they were digital copies. I scheduled the appointment.  And, I have to say, I was impressed!  They have updated their backgrounds since 2013 and instead of having you wait for a cd that you pick up two weeks later they email you the digital photos within hours of the session.  Instant gratification for the win!  It also helped ALOT that the kids actually smiled at the same time.  I am shocked by this.  Every time I've taken Ben and Tessa to a photographer they usually both look at the same time but have bland expressions on their faces or they are smiling but not at the same time. 

What do you know...

Milo didn't look perfect in every photo but he's still a baby so he can get away with it. 

I love how the plaid clothing looked too.  I made Tessa's little infinity scarf and I'm really glad I spent the ten minutes with the sewing machine to do it because it adds a lot to her look. 

I never thought I would pick this camo background but when I saw it on the list of options I thought...hey, why not?  This is just for fun anyway!  It works with his flannel shirt.

Tessa is in an awkward hair stage right now and, although I tried to keep it nicely arranged, it looked kind of weird in several pictures.  They are endearing to me though. 

So there you have it.  It was totally worth it and I would actually go back to JCP again.  And I will be, most likely, because I fell for their racquet and purchased a two year membership (which was the same as the sitting fee so when I bought it they waived the sitting fee so it cost the same!  What  deal!).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Season

HThe last two weekends have been fun because we have been harvesting our pumpkins!  The bounty of our efforts is now in front of us.  Our time spent cultivating and weeding paid off and, to my delight, the pumpkin vines mostly dominated the weeds that managed to survive.  There were several foot high weeds growing at strange angles to find the sun as opposed to last year, when pumpkin vines were long and stringy and climbing the weeds.  There was plenty of rain and the hail that visited the area didn't really hurt them. 

I am disappointed in the gourd production. What you see there is most of the gourds I found in the patch.  Oh well, next year...maybe they should be on their own and not mixed in. Maybe the pumpkin vines are too big.  We are already making plans for next year and looking at seed company websites for different varieties.  We want larger pumpkins next year since there weren't a lot of good carving sized ones in this patch (there were some but not many compared to the hundreds of "baby bear" pie baking pumpkins  we picked. 

Speaking of pie baking, I have been giving a lot of these away to my friends and neighbors and four women, younger women close to my age, were going to use them to bake pies and cook.  Whaaaa?  My mom doesn't even do that and she was the Future Homemakers of American Minnesota state president in 1974.  So now I want to try it.  I guess it's just like cooking acorn squash and I have done that before.  Well, one time.  I cooked one once. 

This pile was from last week. 

Although we only had two different seed varieties in the mix there were some fun variations.  Some were smooth, some were bumpy, and some had green streaks and stripes. 

Here is a picture of the patch.  It was six long rows.  Can anyone find the dog? 

I thought the kids might be excited about the picking process but they really didn't care.  Maybe when they are older...

In this fun little photo we have Milo and his cousin Alice with Tessa in the background wearing Ben's old rain boots and a hunting hat. 

In this photo you can see a small orange pumpkin back in the long grass behind me.  That was a damaged pumpkin that we asked Ben to throw in the woods.  Tessa saw it and started carrying pumpkins over there and throwing them in the woods.  Then she threw a fit when she got in trouble.  Oh, that three year old charm! 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Milo is 1!

Milo's birthday was on Friday.  Wow, that came up fast.  We didn't have a real party with a theme or anything.  He had a cake with each set of grandparents and opened some presents.  He went on his first combine ride and had his first experience with a blood sugar spike, which was hilarious.  He went to the doctor today and he weighs 21.2 pounds and is 30 inches long.  I was sure he was heavier than that.  He sure feels heavier.  He is, however, the biggest of the three at age one.  I don't think Tessa broke 20 pounds until she was 18 months old. 

Here are a few pictures.  They are not in the right chronological order because Blogger has been doing that annoying thing where pictures show up as little x icons all afternoon and now that it finally works I'm too annoyed to spend anymore time arranging them and then adding my phone uploads in the proper places. 

This cake is the cake Justin's mom got him. 

He immediately grabbed an oreo and shoved it in his mouth! 

After he finished a nice big slice I put him in the tub and he proceeded to splash around and run laps around the tub like a maniac! 

Ben and Tessa had their first experience with noise makers.  Oops, I forgot to bring them with us! Oh shoot, what a shame...

This is the cake he had at the farm.  We stopped and  bought it at a grocery store on the way.  Justin picked it and he said it was the only boyish cake.  It is a "Monster Jam" in monster trucks.  The truck on the cake is Grave Digger.  Some 1 year olds have Sesame Street, some have a favorite toy theme, Milo has Grave Digger...

At the list minute I remembered to dig out the 1st birthday onesie. It has been worn by several other kids and is still going strong!  The birthday hats were ones that my mom had around the house.  It only stayed on his head for two seconds anyway.  I love my super fast camera! 

He got a little toy motorcycle and new Converse shoes. 

This tractor with mega blocks was a hit because he likes to stick things in the cabs of toy trucks.  If his pacifier ever goes missing, that is where I start looking.  The roof lifts off this tractor on a hinge so it will be perfect for storing favorite treasures.

Yesterday Milo went for his first tractor ride!  He liked it but he got kind of bored.  We were in the tractor pulling the grain cart so maybe he will be more intrigued with the combine and its spinning header.

All three kids had photos taken last week at a studio and I haven't had the chance to share them yet but here is a preview of Milo's 1 year old session.