Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Decorating Pumpkins

Alice has been asking to "decorate the pumpkins" since we brought them home from the pumpkin patch. I wanted to wait until closer to Halloween, so I managed to hold her off for a week by letting her "decorate" our house with them. She'd line them up at the fireplace, load them into any handy tote bag, box, or other receptacle, transport them to a different room, and then "decorate" them into a line somewhere else. 

The bench, "decorated" with pumpkins.
So finally, this past weekend, Alice finally got to "decorate" our pumpkins. I masked off a jack-o-lantern face on her pretty, white pumpkin and set her up with some acrylic paint. I stripped her down to minimize paint damage/clean up, but I should have known that my dainty, meticulous child would have only two tiny smudges of paint on her little fingers. Nary a stray drop anywhere else!
all ready to get started.

and her pumpkin, masked and ready to go.

the first stroke.

 While Alice painted, Jon and I got busy carving up our pumpkins.

a blank canvas.

Alice helped watched, and then used her little safety scissors to cut construction paper into confetti while we finished up. Just before we called it a success, though, Jon went to clean up the paper bag of pumpkin guts and the soggy bottom fell out just as he lifted it off the table. It made a fantastic mess all over the floor which drove Alice to tears ("clean it up! clean it UP!"). I calmed her down while Jon transferred all of the pumpkin guts into a sturdier plastic bag and Alice repeated "Daddy spilled the seeds!" over and over and over. It was, as Alice says, hilarious...
We caught some rays of afternoon sun streaming in our window to give us a preview of our freshly carved pumpkins, and enjoyed their glow while we watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and ate Trader Joe's kettle corn cookies and drank apple cider. It was a pretty marvelous afternoon. As soon as we put the pumpkins on the fireplace, Alice proclaimed that we could now get a Christmas tree (I think she's confused by the simultaneous Halloween/Christmas displays at the hardware stores she frequents with Jon...). But yes, Alice. Soon, we will get a Christmas tree.

Ten points for anyone who can identify the characters on our pumpkins!
jack-o-lanterns glow in the afternoon sun
our pumpkins, at night.
 What did you carve on your pumpkins? Everyone ready for Halloween? Have a festive day tomorrow and a safe night of celebrations!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Night Cat in the Pumpkin Patch

This weekend, we made our third annual trip to the pumpkin patch! You can read about our first two years here. My sister and her boyfriend were visiting for the weekend, so we all headed up to Lombardi Ranch, with a traditional stop at the Habit Burger. The past two years, the temperature has been 100-degrees of more. We were so pleased that it was cool and overcast, with some actual misty water droplets in the air!

I had decided on Alice's costume pretty late in the game and it arrived just in the nick of time. She says she's a "night cat," after a black cat in one of the books she got at the library a few rounds ago - as opposed to a "Marci cat" (white) or a "Buddy Guy" cat (orange), after our own kitties. I think she's the very cutest little night cat I have ever seen.
Alice and her Auntie.
Lombardi Ranch is a pretty popular place. It took Alice a few minutes to take in the train, the live music, all the sights and the crowds. But as soon as she saw the rows and piles of pumpkins, she was all set. This was the first year that she really knew what was going on and she had a really great time.
Surveying the scene.
 Her first stop was this tractor tire full of tiny pumpkins. She spent a good long time moving pumpkins, one at a time, from the tire into our wagon. We had to cut her off to move on to the bigger pumpkins, after surreptitiously thinning out the pile in our wagon.
Filling up the wagon with tiny pumpkins.
 She didn't get any less choosy once we got to the rows of bigger pumpkins. She surprised and impressed us all, including herself, at the heavy pumpkins she was hauling around. She told us "Alice is so strong!"

In her excitement, she often forgot to be gentle with the pumpkins and was just chucking them in the wagon. Plus, you know, they were really heavy! Since we weren't going to take all of those pumpkins home, we had to intervene just a bit. 
Auntie's boyfriend spots a pumpkin on the landing.
Alice could have moved pumpkins all day long, but we wanted to see the animals and scarecrows before she ran out of energy. We had a good time identifying all the exotic farm breeds (rabbits! pigs! chickens, turkeys, and geese! peacocks! llamas!) and then moved on to the sunflower trail with the scarecrow contest. 


 In little pockets, nestled among the sunflowers, are little scarecrow vignettes created by local middle-schoolers, girl scout troops, and civic organizations. At every one, Alice would ask "what's that?!" and we'd do our best to explain. There were a few Hello Kitty scarecrows, which she totally enjoyed.
"Auntie, carry you?"

After the scarecrows, we headed back to the pumpkin patch and Alice played with Auntie and her boyfriend while Jon and I picked our pumpkins. 

 She found a little patch that she didn't have to share with anyone, and ran amok choosing pumpkins to dump in our wagon. After a while, she forgot we were even there and was totally in her own little world.

A little kitty, reclining on some pumpkins.
After a while, she sat down on a pumpkin and then on the floor surrounded by pumpkins and just played in the dirt - just like a real kitty!

one filthy little night cat.
Daddy hooked her with a giant gourd.
 And then we had to take the obligatory photo in whatever you call this thing. I particularly liked that Frankenstein Jon is holding a little kitty. Tres apropos...

After further editing our pumpkin selections and scraping together exactly enough dollars to pay for our haul, we headed home for a cozy afternoon with cider and cookies. We're hoping that the fall weather is here to stay and that it won't actually be 100+ degrees on Halloween. We've been enjoying plenty of fall-flavored treats lately, and they just taste better when there's a little chill to the air. We're looking forward to the rest of our fall and holiday traditions - like carving our pumpkins!

How about you? Have you gotten your costume yet? Taken any trips to the pumpkin patch? Enjoyed any fall/Halloween treats and traditions?