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it’s scary season

It’s scary season.  In so many ways.  The weather has taken a nose dive into dark nights and mornings, rain storms and cold to the bone winds.  Everyone has finally figured out that summer is over – which means that work is all about the mad rush to complete year-end goals .  But perhaps most importantly, at least to the three mini people in our world, it’s almost Halloween. Wahoo!

I find it kind of easy this time of year to hibernate.  Catching up on work with laptop, catching up on new TV shows with my hubby, catching up on cooking/baking/making … it’s not a time of year that I associate with a lot of celebration – it’s a hunker-down and get school/work/house projects done time of year … so we have to make sure we build in the fun.  Our kids love that random Wednesdays are special days. So regardless of our mid-week insanity and the cold tiredness that sets in for both of us this time of year… we make Tuesdays, Wednesdays (and other days too) as much of a celebration as possible.  Our top five Halloween prep mid-week celebrations?

pumpkin tools kate busy charlie pumpkin

1.  paper-mache pumpkins.  This one is not expensive at all, and takes a good 45 minutes.  It’s a bit messy – so haul out the newspaper or a plastic table cloth – but super fun.  Made using a basic Michaels cardboard pumpkin with orange tissue paper cut into small pieces and kid’s glue that I added water to with foam brushes from the dollar store.  The girls had a blast pasting their way to a creative pumpkin.  They refused help and both had their own style to get to the finished product… and those pumpkins have been front and centre on our table every night since they were so lovingly made.

owl owls spider cupcakes

2. cupcakes.  the mini cake.  and for our kids ‘the vessel from which i lick off all the icing and leave the cake as a gift for daddy’.  This year we made spiders with some fun candy eyes I found and also some owl cupcakes thanks to a fun article in Family Circle magazine. Both were super easy to make and really easy to get the kids involved in.

 

cookie making cookies

3. cookies.  Related to cupcakes but not exactly the same… We made 3 batches of pumpkin sugar cookies this month.  They are great for a quick activity when friends are over, and for a time-user when you need to clean up after dinner and not referee kid battles.  I made the basic dough and froze it in batches to bring out throughout the month.  The icing faces got scarier and more elaborate as the month went on… and by that I mean there was more icing used because they wised up to the fact that the more they decorated, the more icing they got to lick off the cookie before giving the rest to daddy as a special gift.

superman our fast food

4. Mr (and Misses) dress-up.  Remember that show? So good.   A good post-dinner energy expend-er now that the rains have us inside more has been the mad costume-dress up game.  It’s just so exciting to see what you can be by pulling on a wig or a cape … or a hamburger (thank you Nicola!)

 

hayride wet corn maze arewedoneyet

5. pumpkin patching, picking, drawing and carving.  over all this is the most over-rated of the top five activities on our list, I’d contend – but a necessary journey on the Halloween adventure.  I think Cam might agree.  The patch is cold, and the pumpkins are unwieldy when you are also having to coral three goat/pig/rabbit/chicken loving kids who want to visit all the animals on the farm (again), and by the end your kids are all wet and dirty, cold and hungry and they would like to put a light in their pumpkin… now.  At the ages of our kids, they don’t really get the whole carving thing, and how long it takes to scoop out the pumpkin and prep it for the masterpiece, and then the three-year-old vision is really pretty tough to bring to life using a knife and a crayola marker.  But that is not acceptable – so a pumpkin induced (oscar worthy) cry erupts at some point in the process. But at the end of the day – it’s a tradition that signifies we’re almost at the most exciting night of candy consumption of the year … so I think the excitement over the carved pumpkins is well worth the sometimes slightly painful journey.

pumpkins1 pumpkins

Almost at Halloween… and we hope you’re enjoying the scary prep and having a great time

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Home-made birthday presents

How do you feel about home-made gifts? Really. I know some say they’re a really thoughtful way to say thank-you or happy birthday or welcome – but I wonder at the end of the day if it’s just better to buy things.

I love making home-made gifts. If I’m honest, it’s mostly a selfish thing. It makes me feel really good to give someone I care about something I’ve made. I have very little time right now, so when I want to show someone I really care I like to make something because that comes from one of my most precious possessions – my time. But really at the end of the day that person may have just wanted a really nice bottle of wine or a barbie and not whatever thing I just bestowed upon them from my midnight workshop… so often times that is what we give.  Because no one wants to be the bad gift giver, right?

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I recently made a gift for a friend of Matt’s for her 5th birthday – it was building off of an apron and cookbook idea I posted about earlier. I love the idea of making craft kits for kids. I do a lot of things wrong as a parent. But one area I have confidence in (and I find it can turn around any blue day) is crafting. Every week we make incredible creations and I often think I’d love to package the tools up and give them away to other families so that they don’t have to worry about all the parts and pieces and they can just dive right into the craft. Not like regular boxed crafts. Something that still leaves room for the kid to be creative and inventive. I think crafts are such an incredible way to watch kids learn. Rolling, drawing, counting, reading, writing, gluing, sewing, cooking – you can really increase or decrease the dexterity required, the creativity and the learning curve so easily. Recently, as I watched Matt writing out menus for us while we wait for dinner to cook, and reading words from our recipe books – I thought it might be cool to make up all the pieces of the apron, and also include tools like fabric markers, puffy paint, and sequins so that Matt’s friend could create her own apron.

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I made the apron – see the tiny baker post for details on how, and then I attached iron-transfer paper to the back of other corresponding fabric and cut out the letters of her name. That way she can place her own name on her apron wherever she wants and her mom can iron it together (I included instructions – that stuff seems intuitive but like a kids’ tattoo if you leave on the wrong paper you’re doomed).

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Knowing this clever little monkey I thought she might also like to start writing/drawing out her own recipes – so continued the theme with her own recipe cards (and included one of Matty’s favorite recipes in there in the font he made earlier this year)

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We added in a favorite baking cookbook that our kids love, and packaged it up just for her with her own “Gabby’s Bakeshop” labels … the packaging might be my favorite part…
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…I created a little mini-brand for these pieces called “Little Bud” – it was what my Dad called me when I was a little kid and I was a make-it crazed little person – thought it might be fitting. I’ve done a couple of other kits with different themes that I’ll post about later – but I really liked this one as a fun starter – and something you can totally do too if you like (I can send out templates). Our adobe suite expired so I literally made all of the paper parts of the gift using power point, sticker paper, card stock and a paper cutter. Very doable. I’ve gotten to know PPT well and you can create your own graphics easily using the program and a little help from google.

Have you made any gifts recently? I always love some inspiration!

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ooooo went the wind and out went the light!

… and the three little pumpkins got verrrry excited about their flashlights!

The Halloween fun has been in full swing in our crazy house since Thanksgiving.  In fact, I think Kate said it best as the kids all went to bed the night we had family over for thanksgiving “now it’s time for Halloween, then Matt’s birthday, then Christmas – right mommy?” yep. This is the time of year that just flies by from one built up celebration to the next chez Buschel. In fact we kinda started celebrating Halloween at Thanksgiving when we put the kids to work for their dessert as they decorated pumpkin and ghost sugar cookies that we’d baked the day before … serious work for our kids, but my nephews were all smiles!

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I can’t seem to keep up with all the planning ahead; the remembering for school days, the projects and forecasts for work, and the general family maintenance at home.  The balance of it all just seems to get more and more complicated as everyone gets older (I’m talking about my kids – not me!)  I’m just grateful that I can blame the cobwebs in our house on Halloween and the chaotic state of of our yard on the latest wind storm.

leaf pile

 

We’ve been taking in as much of the ‘good part’ of fall as possible.  Apple Fest at UBC, bike-rides and hunts for chestnuts, early trick-or-treating at our community shopping area, pumpkin patch visiting, and Halloween baking, making and spooking.

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There are a few very fun costumes on the nightly rotation … I’ll post them all next week – it’s kind-of like Mr Dress up around here right now.

Tonight we’ll make some pumpkins out of tissue and glue – another messy art project to send poor cam’s blood pressure up – and put up our cobwebs and maybe even bake some owl cupcakes .

I’ll continue to procrastinate in making Matthew’s cheetah costume. This kid.  He has such specific requests and I don’t want to let him down – but a cheetah? really? Not sure how I’m gonna pull that one off age appropriate and for a boy  (try searching cheetah costumes on pinterest… you’ll see what I mean – it’s more of a young cougar look if you catch my…)

Now off to go buy more halloween flashlights and glow sticks – ours have been in such high use all month that they are burnt out, worn out, or in 100 pieces throughout the house right now.

Happy Haunting!

 

… a few extra fun pics from our Thanksgiving feast with my mom and sister and her fam this year … we made a thanksgiving tree with our thumbprints, and wrote what we were thankful for on turkeys … the kids drew up a storm on the kraft paper covered table – not quite the elegant table setting one might picture for thanksgiving – but it worked for our families this year.

1thanksgiving tree 1beauties kidthanksgiving candle thanksgivingsmiles