Sunday, October 30, 2011

my kind of saturday night.

I love the cooler nights, the early darkness. The boys play with friends in the alley - running in the dusk, bundled and rosy cheeked. The parents holding steaming mugs of tea or cocoa.

Last night was perfect for a fire pit. Our yard is so small it isn't safe to do it when windy, but last night was cold with only a slight breeze. We pulled out the pit, the boys setup the wood just so with some used paper wadded up below, and both had a chance to light it (yes, they lit a fire with matches :)).

We found marshmallows, graham crackers, skewers. The neighbors came over and all the boys roasted the insanely huge marshmallows and A counted how many times he could light his on fire. Ahem.

A grabbed his guitar, because strumming around a fire is just what you do.

The darkness fell, and the flames mesmerized and warmed us.

After the neighbors went in for the evening we sat out around the fire, watched the flames, and talked about things. My kind of Saturday night!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Where we live road side farm stands, pumpkin patches, orchards and farms are everywhere. From the few rows of pumpkins outside of a rural farmhouse to the elaborate production of a farm that caters to the school buses and field trips. It's all here. We have many favorites, and will always stop at more than one spot throughout the season.

We have our favorite carving pumpkins, favorite pie pumpkins, the place with the chatty owner, the place with the friendly cats and some goats, the best hayrides, the place that always has unusual varieties of winter squash, the farm that has the best wagons. And if we can squeak in during quiet times, we visit our favorite farm maze or that spot with excellent caramel apples.

And so it goes, year after year. Boys keep getting bigger, but they still love pulling that wagon. And even if it is only a few miles from home, it is about the whole experience. What park do we have to go to nearby? Do we need a picnic, is the weather perfect? Do we have the right music for the drive? ;)

And only when the farms and road side stands all finally close up, when there are no more signs with arrows scattered along the roadsides, and all of our pie pumpkins have been puréed, does it feel truly like winter is not far behind.

Monday, October 24, 2011

into the world of audio.

My boys have never really enjoyed children's museums. But science museums? Love. And I love having a family membership. Because no matter how often we go, there is always something new to look at even if the exhibits don't change.

The older they get, the more they focus on the details, they stand and read the screens, or move to areas they were not that interested in before. This trip we spent time in some of the familiar places. They love the robotics, flight simulator, aquarium and submarine. They love the bed of nails, the energy independent house, the touch tanks, the large ship hanging from the ceiling.

And then we ventured into the audio/music area for the longest ever this weekend. We banged and played and watched and listened. We made music. We made noise. We saw sound. And we learned about sound and the history of audio recording. While they still don't really care about the Les Paul guitars (Who is Robert Plant? Why is a signed guitar behind glass?), there is a lot of cool stuff in there. Keyboards, guitars, drum machines, funky interactive music consoles, sound wave generators. Not to mention a recording studio.

Like mother like sons.

Friday, October 21, 2011

fall days.

I love the cool crispness of fall. Colder days - some dark, some sunny, most windy. The crunch of leaves underfoot. The frost on the rooftops, the birds busy at the birdfeeder. Boys layered up to keep warm. Those red rosy cheeks when they come in from the cold. The smell of outside lingering in hair, on clothes. The rich aroma of fresh cider on the stovetop, ready to warm them. Yes, life is good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

autumn garden.

The days are chilly, the nights are very cold. The garden is wrapping up slowly. We have pulled out one area of the finished tomato, pepper and cucumber plants. The squash has been picked and the vines cleared. But there are still full areas. Full of red raspberries, full of kale, full of herbs and flowers that seem to go on and on even with freezing temps and frost.

We are still picking kale. I grow a lot of kale because I love it in soups and stews all winter, and also because we have a bunny (she loves it). I pick from a few main plants all summer and leave a few others for late fall - just because I love how beautiful they look when they are huge twisty frilly trees of vibrant color. We still have wonderberries and huckleberries, swiss chard, calendula, feverfew, parsley, lovage. The amaranth is battered from our strong October winds but we leave some because we love all the color.

I have been slowing digging up and re-potting herbs. I have brought in parsley, thyme, celery and basil. We are starting trays of greens for our indoor garden, but I love how long we can keep herbs going when they move to a sunny window.

We have planted more greens and radishes along with a few other things, but they grow more slowly with the cold and darkness.

We leave some things for the birds - some currants still on bush, sunflower heads bent and dried full of seeds, and the compost pile is a popular spot for the juncos. And the chipmunk clears out most of the tomatoes that I pretend I don't see (am I the only one who gets really tired of tomatoes by mid October?).

I do love this time of year - the cold, the smell of the air. Tucking in, laying to rest, getting ready for winter.

How is your garden?

Monday, October 17, 2011

glow stick lanterns.

With the dark arriving earlier and earlier, the boys are often out playing with the neighbors as it gets dark. They play tag and ghost in the graveyard. We walk around the block to see what spooky decorations are turned on. And we play with glow sticks.

We've been wanting to crack some open after being reminded by Tara. We gathered a few of the larger glow sticks, canning jars, strong scissors and water. We cracked and shook, and then cut off the top and poured the liquid into the canning jars (using a fine strainer keeps the little broken bits out of your jars). You can keep single colors or mix and see what you get. If you add a little bit of water you get a bit better glow.

Screw the lids on tight and shake! The canning jar glows so much (for hours, depending on your glow sticks) - very cool and lots of fun.

If you get some on your fingers just wash with soap. Or, run around in the dark waving your hands in the air and moaning like a ghost to get a few awesome shrieks. Ahem. Although non-toxic the liquid can have little shards in it from cracking the tube to activate, so you don't want to play in the liquid - keep it in the jar. When you are done you can just wash the jars with hot soapy water.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


It is happening. The trees and grasses have gone from green to vivid and are now slowly turning to rusty brown. The winds and rain came and blew many trees empty, but pockets of startling bold autumn can still be found. Combines and tractors move slowly down the roads and through the fields.

After some hot days we have had chilly windy days. Fleeces, sweaters, hats and gloves. Feels like fall. I can see how the light is moving. We wake before the sunrise each morning now. The dark comes earlier and earlier every evening. The nights are crisp and cold. The wind makes the house shake, and blows everything bare. I can feel myself tucking into it, looking forward to the cold. I can smell the change in the air.

"How beautifully leaves grow old.
How full of light and color are their last days. "

~John Burroughs

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ghost lanterns.

As the rainy fall days surround us, we think of light. More light! It has been awhile since we have made any canning jar tissue paper lanterns, so today in the spirit of G's holiday decorating mission we made ghosts. These are always fun and easy to make and you can pretty much find a design for any holiday or season (here is a good tutorial with Halloween designs if you want more than my laid back general info!).

G and I cut strips of white tissue paper, pulled out brushes, put out craft mats, and poured Mod Podge into bowls. Working a strip at a time the boys then brushed on Mod Podge, then applied a strip, gently tapping and coating each strip as they adhered.

They did two layers, leaving the tops loose until the end. They then added Mod Podge to the top edge and then sprinkled a good bit of white thick glitter all over the outside.

Must have glitter.

We trimmed the tops so no white paper was over the opening and let them dry. We did apply a single water based varnish layer with a brush after the modpodge dried. If you don't use glitter you won't need it, but we didn't want to shed glitter forever (there are now versions of all-in-one Mod Podge glue/sealer/finish that glow in the dark, shimmer and have glitter, but ours was...plain).

When dry G helped draw face designs and I cut them out. He glued them on with a thick glue stick layer. All that was left was inserting a tea light and turning out the lights!