Pumpkin Time!

This year we went to a pick-your-own pumpkin patch!

This place is a pick-your-own bonanza - pumpkins, apples, and, during the summer, all sorts of berries.

We've come a long way from the pumpkin patches in California. As in, oh look! An actual patch! Of pumpkins! And they're not piled on top of hay that is scattered on top of asphalt in a big strip mall parking lot. They're on ACTUAL VINES in an ACTUAL FIELD! Who knew?

Obviously not us. Because when we stopped by the cashier hut before heading out to the field, James asked the man if we needed any tools to cut the pumpkins off the vines. He looked at us like we were idiots. Turns out, the pumpkins just pull right off! Geez man!

So we started at the bottom of this field:

We got about 10 feet in and James said, "Hey, Ella, how about this pumpkin?"

And she was like, "Yeah! It's cold! Let's go in the car!"

So they grabbed her pumpkin and a few more on the way (because it was buy 1, get 1 free day! Heck yeah!) and drove around to the other side of the field and waited while Peyton and I looked for our perfect pumpkins.

Do you see our Blazer? That teeny, tiny, little blue and white speck at the top of the field? I found my perfect giant HEAVY pumpkin right away. Next time, I'll wait until I'm much, much, closer to the car to pick the perfect giant HEAVY pumpkin. Dear Lord! That was a long way to carry that stupid thing.

Peyton searched and searched and searched:

We hiked through that entire pumpkin patch and got to the car and he still hadn't found his perfect pumpkin. So we gave him a couple choices and made him pick one. Sometimes it's hard to be a perfectionist. Sweet little boy.

Then we went apple picking. We searched the rows for our favorite apples:


I loved hearing those sweet little voices: "Twist and pull!"

"Twist and pull!"

"Twist and pull!"

Back at home, here's my pumpkin and Peyton's pumpkin, hanging out on front porch:

The pumpkins Ella and James scooped up on the way back to the car are in the living room:

But Ella insisted on sleeping with hers on her Tinker Bell table in her room. Because she's the cutest girl ever:

Yay for pumpkin time!

Broccoli and Bow Tie Pasta

I just love this pasta dish. It's simple and fresh and delicious.

I originally got the recipe from Ina Garten (you can find her version here), but I changed it up a little bit. And sometimes, when I feel like living on the razor's edge, I add the broccoli to the pasta water while the pasta is cooking. I think it's fun to try to time it so both the pasta and the broccoli is done at exactly the same time. I'm serious. I think it's fun. Every single time I add the broccoli into that boiling pasta water I get a smile on my face. I'm a wild woman in the kitchen - watch out!

Broccoli and Bow Ties

Kosher salt

4 cups broccoli florets

1 pound farfalle (bow tie) pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 lemon, zested

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup toasted pignoli (pine) nuts

Freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove the broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In the same water, cook the bow-tie pasta according to the package directions. Drain well and add to the broccoli.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the butter and oil and cook the garlic and lemon zest over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Off the heat, add 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and lemon juice and pour this over the broccoli and pasta. Toss well. Season to taste, sprinkle with the pine nuts and cheese, and serve.

To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry saute pan over medium-low heat and cook, tossing often, for about 5 minutes, until light brown.

Serves: 4


Monster Mash!

Frankenstein: Ella
Dracula: Peyton
Frankenstein's Monster: James
Bride of Frankenstein: Me
Wolfman: Our sweet dog up in doggy heaven, Max

I presented it to Peyton and Ella this morning. During the entire first screening Ella would scream, "NO IT ISN'T!" every time I said, "Look! That's you! Look! There's Daddy!"

After a bit of explaining she finally understood how I had put our pictures in. Then my sweet kids watched that video approximately 20 times in a row. Ella spent her time during those screenings practicing the video dance moves and kissing our characters as they came up. Kind of awesome.

Thanks, Ali, for the great idea!

Tissue Ghosts

Every Halloween-time my kids and I make Tissue Ghosts. They're fun and fast and incredibly easy and practically free. And also because I remember making them with my mom when I was little.

This year we decided to hang all of our ghosties (Tissue Ghosts, Glue Ghosts, Windsock Ghosts) together in one area. You know, for that designer grouping effect. We call it the Ghost Garage.

I also call it Making Martha Stewart Cringe - One Colored Pushpin at a Time:

If you've never made them before, don't worry - you probably have all the necessary materials in your house already. Maybe not the perfect Martha Stewart-worthy materials, but really, it's a craft made out of hanging Kleenex from the ceiling, so who cares? Right?
I'll tell you who cares: Peyton cares. Halfway through hanging the ghosts with the only pushpins I had in the house, he said, "Mommy, you REALLY need to get some clear pushpins." And I was all, "I have taught you well, young grasshopper."

Tissue Ghosts

Facial Tissue
Fishing Line
(or white string if you're rebellious like me)
(crazy colored ones if you're rebellious like me)


Crumple up one piece of tissue into a ball. Notice the concentration on Ella's face:

Put it in the middle of another tissue, and fold that tissue up around the ball.

Cut a long piece of string and tie it around the tissue to hold the ball in place. Leave one end of the string long so you can hang your ghost:

Use the marker to draw a face on your ghost like this:

Or like this:

And make the "Boooooooooo!" sound:

Swing your ghost around and knock your sibling in the head a few times:

(Peyton's gray tooth is starting to fade back to white a little bit!)

Hang your ghost from the ceiling with a pushpin and scare all your friends!

Happy Haunting!

Predictions Via the Cell Phone

Ella: "Yay! My cell phone! I need to call the police. Now be quiet."

(Dials out loud) "459-795-382-0"

"Hello? Hello?"

(Closes phone) "They hang-ed up."

Me: "Why don't you call again?"

Ella: "Okay, I'm going to call them."

(Dials out loud) "321-470-852-369-06"

"Yeah, hello."

(Listens for a moment) "What time is our house going to caught on fire?"

(Hangs up)

Me: "What did they say?"

Ella: "He said it's going to be snowy on Sunday. He said our house is going to be on fire on Thursday."

Me: "Did the police say what to do if our house is on fire?"

Ella: "Crawl and if the door is cold then we can open it and call the police and go in the police car but we won't go in jail."

Me: "Oh, good. Because I don't want to go to jail."

Ella: "Me neither!"

Mommy High

Here's a brief rundown of the Friday Mystery Reader program in Peyton's kindergarten class. At Parent Night a few weeks ago, parents could sign up to come in at a later date and read to the class. But of course, it's a "mystery," so when it's your Friday, you don't tell your child that you're coming in. You go into the school office and then the teacher calls and asks, "Is our Mystery Reader here?" And then you get to walk in and read a few of your kid's favorite books to the little kindergartners.

So, last Friday was my big day. I chose some of Peyton's favorite books from home and waited in the office. When I was called, I walked into the class and I was greeted like a rock star.

Peyton was sitting in the middle of all the kids on the reading rug. When he saw me, his face lit up and he smiled the biggest smile. He didn't want to take the time to make his way through all the kids, so he climbed over the couch in the middle of the room to get to me. He gave me the greatest hug and exclaimed, "It's my mommy!" He was just so proud to claim me as his.

So we made our way up to the reading chair and there was a little chair right next to it where he got to sit. I could tell by his excitement that it was obviously a very prestigious position. I pulled out the books I had brought from home and let him choose which order we read them in.

He would stop me every once in a while with big, smiling questions:
"I've been looking for this book everywhere! Where did you find it?"
"How come you didn't tell me you were coming?"
"Are you coming again?"

He loved showing off his books. Especially the Blue Ramone "Cars" book that "Is actually two books! And it has stickers in the middle!"

One of my very favorite moments came as we were reading Blue Ramone. Peyton interrupted me to ask the class, all teacher-like, "Now, who has a blue shirt on?" And the kids went wild pointing out all the blue on each other. So cute!

He saved his favorite book for last. Peyton has "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog" memorized. Have you read it? It's hilarious. Plus, you get to yell when you read it. And it's where he learned the phrase: "Oh, for Pete's sake!" Which he loves to say very, very dramatically as he lands his palm across his forehead.

After that was nap time. So as the teacher put out all their mats, Peyton chose two of his books to read during rest time. He was just so proud to have his own books in the class. And before he settled in he gave me about twenty thousand hugs and kisses and "I love you's."

When I left, I was grinning ear to ear. I immediately called James and told him all about it. With tears in my eyes and all the happiness a mother can hold.

I will never forget this day.

Party On, Mummy. Party On.

If you like inviting the undead to your parties, these guys should be at the top of your list. If you don't like inviting the undead to your parties, then you are really missing out. Because the undead are awesome. Don't be a wimp. If they decide to eat you and the other guests' brains, they're pretty slow moving. If you can't outrun them, it's probably your own fault. And besides, they only resort to brain eating if you don't serve good dip. Usually. Oh, who am I kidding? I cannot be held responsible for their actions. You buy 'em, you deal with 'em. It's on you.

Not just for kids! Hand each guest a Bag O' Mummy and have a blast. Really, my Bag O' Mummies are almost as safe as any of Dan Aykroyds' Bag O' products: Bag O' Glass, Bag O' Nails, Bag O' Bugs, Bag O' Vipers, Bag O' Sulfuric Acid. (Classic!) I give you my word. Besides, the mummies are really easy to make and the results are super cute. I mean terrifying. Whatever.

Each mummy is about 7 1/2 inches tall, so if they do attack, you can work together as a Mummy Hunting Team and stick them in the microwave. Messy, but probably effective. It's sure to make for a bonding experience that you will all be talking about for years. You know what that means, right? As long as most of you escape relatively unharmed, you will have thrown THE BEST HALLOWEEN PARTY EVER.

You're welcome. I'm the best.

The Mini Mummy Party Kit contains materials for 10 Mini Mummies, but I can make you more. If you dare.

Party on, Mummy. Party on.