Tag Archives: Halloween

Chocolate Treats, Pumpkin Seeds, and Charlie Brown

31 Oct

Halloween parades, superhero costumes, toasting pumpkin seeds, trick-o-treating, and It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown filled the day. I was suffering from the Blues after the World Series, so I took a couple of days off and decided to come back to life on Halloween.

This holiday always reminds me of my Uncle Erick and his pumpkin carving escapades with his kid. He liked to start his own family traditions and give his kid the things he never had growing up. So when it came to Halloween I remember him going all out, pumpkin patches, hayrides, Halloween decorations and toasted pumpkin seeds. He had the spirit and his kid, who is all grown up now, remembers those days and thinks about those pumpkin carving sessions at our house. She recently asked me for a picture of her seven-year-old self atop a ginormous Jack-O-Lantern she created with her dad, and it made me think of how much joy he liked to bring to holidays and celebrations.

I often wonder what kinds of celebrations and family hangout sessions we would have had if he had survived his battle with cancer years ago, but thoughts like that make me angry and sad, so it takes me a minute to turn things around. I try to remember what we had and not so much what we’re missing, and Halloween is one of the things I’m able to hold and keep.

I talk about my Uncle Erick with the kids and remind them of his toasted pumpkin seed recipes and how I never would have known to do that if it weren’t for Uncle Erick. I try to remember to do the fun things even if they’re messy, even if they make me tired, because hopefully in the end the kids will look back on those days and smile, just like his daughter … smile at the buckets filled chocolate treats, making Jack-O-Lanterns, and Charlie Brown.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

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A Guatacular Halloween

31 Oct

I know they say that time goes by fast but this week … this week Halloween managed to slow things down as I felt each hour and each minute during the jam-packed Fall festivity sessions.

We started on the farm ...

We started on the farm …

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We began with tractor bumper car races to get the party going ...

We began with tractor bumper car races to get the party going …

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We enjoyed a tractor pulled ride and decided to head to the fields ...

We enjoyed a tractor pulled ride and decided to head to the fields …

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We picked our own berries before exploring the rest of the farm.

We picked our own berries before exploring the rest of the games on  farm.

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We ran into some pumpkin art ...

We ran into some pumpkin art …

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:)

🙂

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This was my son's favorite ... he's a Jedi in disguise.

This was my son’s favorite … he’s a Jedi in disguise.

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:)

🙂

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This was my daughter's favorite.

This was my daughter’s favorite.

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We came home from the farm inspired to create something amazing with our own pumpkins, but since we're not great artists we baked ours and came up with these chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I had six during the test-tasting process.

We came home from the farm inspired to create something amazing with our own pumpkins, but since we’re not great artists we baked ours and came up with these chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I had six during the test-tasting process.

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Then came Halloween Eve and the Big Day itself where we spent our time carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating and watching Linus hope for the Great Pumpkin's arrival. A Guatacular week where time stood still and Hershey bars rained down on the Guats.

Then came Halloween Eve and the Big Day itself where we spent our time carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating and watching Linus hope for the Great Pumpkin’s arrival. A Guatacular week where time stood still and Hershey bars rained down on the Guats.

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Getting in Touch With Our Country Side

29 Oct

It was that time of year again where we drove up north to check out the funky pumpkins, relax on a hayride tour throughout the farm, check out some pig races, walk around mazes made out of corn, look at ginormous John Deere rides, climb haystack pyramids, and listen to the good old twang of a banjo and guitar.

Yeah we’re sneaker and ball cap people, but we felt like we had cowboy hats and boots all day. Yeah … we let our country out. We were on a mission to find our pumpkin and we had fun getting in touch with our country side along the way.

 

 

I've never seen pumpkins like this before, but apparently they make an appearance every Halloween.

I’ve never seen pumpkins like this before, but apparently they make an appearance every Halloween.

 

 

The Pumpkin House was probably one of the funnest structures they discovered.

The Pumpkin House was probably one of the funnest structures they discovered.

 

Once got there one of our first stops was checking out the old school tractors.

We followed that up with an awesome tour of the old school tractors. This one seemed to catch my eye the most.

 

 

As soon as we got there my son had to check out one of the rides.

My son preferred the monster truck type. He said it was the kind that the Incredible Hulk would use.

 

 

My daughter wanted to get in on the action, but she preferred racing them.

My daughter wanted to get in on the action, but she preferred racing kind.

 

 

After a little speed racing around the farm we decided to do a couple of mazes.

After a little speed racing around the farm we decided to do a couple of mazes.

 

 

For the first time in Guat history we finally made it to the end and climbed on top of the victory haystack...this was the view from the top. I felt badass.

For the first time in Guat history we finally made it to the end and climbed on top of the victory haystack…this was the view from the top. I felt badass.

 

 

After checking out our awesome victory view, we headed off for the pig races. Apparently a very popular attraction.

After checking out our awesome victory view, we headed off for the pig races. Apparently a very popular attraction.

 

After the pig Ninja Warrior races we set off to play some games. My son seemed to enjoy the green tomato sling shots. He hit three out of five haystacks, earning himself a high five.

After the pig Ninja Warrior races we set off to play some games. My son seemed to enjoy the green tomato sling shots. He hit three out of five haystacks, earning himself a high five.

 

After all that Huckleberry Finn action we decided to have a snack and enjoy the band.

After all that Huckleberry Finn action we decided to have a snack and enjoy the band.

 

Then we headed off to see if the Great Pumpkin was out and about.

Then we headed off to see if the Great Pumpkin was out and about.

 

But the coolest part of the whole trip was that we witnessed our first hay tornado. It was the coolest thing I saw all day ... all weekend probably.  I'd never twister pick up like that, dance around the patch in circles, and then make it rain hay. It was a Fall miracle.

But the coolest part of the whole trip was that we witnessed our first hay tornado. It was the coolest thing I saw all day … all weekend probably. I’d never twister pick up like that, dance around the patch in circles, and then make it rain hay. It was a Fall miracle.

 

After that farm magic we walked around the patch and the kids found their perfect pumpkin.

After that farm magic we walked around the patch and the kids found their perfect pumpkin.

 

 

But I Do Look Forward To …

31 Oct

I like Halloween, I really do. But as a parent there are some things I’ve found to be intolerable during this year’s Spooky Season.

I don’t look forward to waiting in line for forty minutes in order to see my kid in his elementary school Halloween parade.

I don’t look forward to having some mom in yoga pants get out of the comfort of her minivan and cut in line like it’s something normal.

I don’t look forward to being surround by the PTA Nazis and being assaulted with their stink eye during my parental enthusiasm when my son walked by.

I don’t look forward to parents invading my personal space with their 4000 zoom Private Investigator camera lens. You should have waited in line to get a better spot.

I don’t look forward to the crowded streets and congested roads of my small neighborhood during Halloween traffic. I already have Southern California traffic, Halloween happens to add a whole new dimension to it.

I don’t look forward to sorting out candy and finding Candy Corn.

I don’t look forward to the battle of bed time after the Kit Kat, M&M’s, Hershey, Reses Pieces, and Mr. Goodbar extravaganza.

But I do look forward to …

 

... Striking your best Superhero pose

… Striking your best Superhero pose.

 

... Watching It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my kids every year.

… And watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my kids every year. I like having tradition.

 

 

Halloween Eve

30 Oct

After last year’s  Guatacular Halloween Marathon of events, which ended in exhaustion and Advil, I decided to spread the love for festive spookiness into a couple of days. Holidays that encourage gifts of chocolate to random people should really be a two-parter. And so Part I began … with food and Jack-O-Lanterns.

During this artistic endeavor, tips from Martha Stewart and The Food Network proved to be extremely helpful. But it also brought memories of my Uncle Erick: The pumpkin-seed-toaster extraordinaire. Before him I thought seeds were just for planting or spitting out, however we learned that  nothing gets thrown out. The magic of salt, pepper, olive oil and 400 degrees is awesome. This was part of our Halloween ritual, along with The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and a few episodes of the Twilight Zone, the pig face one really seemed to freak me out a bit.

And so with all this Halloween ambience from my past, I’ve tried to re-create these traditions with my kids, minus Rod Serling and his dimensions of sight, sound, and freaking-me-out scenarios. This Halloween Eve with the Guats consisted of snacks, carving out pumpkins, and taste-testing.

 

In the beginning it's best to outline the situation so you don't get three eyes.

In the beginning it’s best to outline the situation so you don’t get three eyes.

 

Once we cut open the bottom, the slimy investigation begins

Once we cut open the bottom, the slimy investigation begins.

 

My daughter happened to enjoy the slimy part and made it her mission to remove all the seeds.

My daughter happened to enjoy the slimy part and made it her mission to remove all the seeds.

 

Our finished product :)

My son was interested in the carving aspect and so our finished product contained all kinds of shapes.

 

 

My son was a little bit more interested in the seeds.

He was also interested in roasting the seeds.

 

 

They happened to turn out perfectly as I sat in front of the television and ate half of them.

They happened to turn out perfectly as I sat in front of the television and ate half of them.

 

But the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie was of number one interest to everyone. I ate five of them in half an hour.

But the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie was of number one interest to everyone. I ate five of them in half an hour.

 

 

The Guat’s Halloween-athon

31 Oct

I’m exhausted. If I was a bad mother I’d be full of energy right now, but I consider myself a pretty good Guat parent, so when it comes to Halloween I try to fit in as much fun as possible. From sunlight to moonlight the Halloween-athon was in full effect.

This is why I’m in need of Advil and a good massage.

🙂

It always starts and ends with the pumpkins.

 

Party at school.

We got dressed up and ready for the costume parade at school where Thor, gladiators, superheros, astronauts, cowboys and firefighters strutted their stuff.

 

Checking out the real deal.

After school we headed to the fire station so that my son could show off his costume and ask about a million questions, which he does every time we visit. Except this time it looked more official, considering he was wearing his uniform.

 

The baking begins.

After all that excitement we went home for snack time and began our baking project. Pumpkin pie … from scratch. Oh … yeah … it was on. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and never attempted. Visiting the pumpkin patch the other day got me into the spirit so I decided why not? This of course is how all Bucket List items begin for me.

I began the pumpkin pie baking journey with my son. Step one … making your own pumpkin puree. Step Two … follow Bobby Flay‘s Pumpkin Pie recipe. We got to mixing, whisking, pouring, and baking.

 

Jack-o-Lantern Time

While the pie was baking we decided to carve the pumpkins and baby sister decided to help her four-year old brother remove the seeds. There was pumpkin membranes and pumpkin seeds on every surface, including the dog.

 

Ta-daaaa!

This was our finished product. I know it looks basic, but it was a very creative and skillful effort on the part of my son and his awesome pumpkin carving tools. I was very proud of his cutting skills. Very patient. Very.

 

Ding! Ding! Ding! The Main Event.

Once the pumpkin pie was done and the Jack-O-Lantern was complete we ventured off into the night for some tricks-or-treats…mostly treats. A bucket full.

 

Spooky houses.

 

A different take on the Hollywood sign.

 

Some nice front lawn decor.

 

The best Halloween House I’ve seen.

 

Fountain at Boney Island house.

 

The tree house at Boney Island.

 

The window display at Boney Island house.

 

The porch at Boney Island house.

After all that trick-or-treating and hanging out at amazing Halloween houses, we headed home with a bucket full of Snickers, M&Ms, Twizzlers, Twix, and KitKats. People seemed to enjoy giving away chocolate. I had no problem with that. We plopped ourselves in front of the couch and watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. My feet were thankful for the rest, so was my back.

 

My pumpkin pie 🙂

Then after giving the kids a bath, reading bedtime stories, putting them to sleep, putting the roasted pumpkin seeds in Ziploc containers, and washing the dishes, I finally ended my day — my Halloween-athon. One slice, one spoon, and a lot of whipped cream. It was a Guat-sized portion. I got a little carried away. I was proud of myself for making it … from scratch.  Ahhhh, that Bobby Flay … he rocks.

The Guats Hit the Farm

28 Oct

Ever since I decided to make my life less crappy with my own little Happiness Project, errands, like finding a pumpkin for my kids this Halloween season, take on a different meaning. This pumpkin is no longer a grocery item at the Farmer’s Market down the street. This pumpkin search becomes a project — one that requires a family field trip to the farm.

 

This was our first outing to the Underwood Family Farms and it proved to be an awesome country adventure as the Fall Harvest Festival was in full swing. Granted it took us over forty minutes to get there and my kids were running out of patience, but we made it — all in one piece.

 

John Deere rocks.

We started off with the Combine Slide, something  that my four-year old is very familiar with courtesy of one of his favorite shows Mighty Machines. We hung out here for a while and despite the massive slathering of Coppertone we got a nice tan.

 

The Hay Pyramids

This was followed by a little climbing. My son found the altitude of the hay stacks quite amazing, my daughter thought hay throwing was even more amazing.

 

Checking out the farm scene.

After all that activity, we decided to mingle with farm animals and my daughter decided to chat up a storm with the sheep. They were having a lengthy conversation — the kind where she screams and laughs, and they just stare.

 

The Brave Loner.

While the kids continued making friends with all the four-legged farm residents, I happened to glance up at the sky and notice this one goat … just thinking outside of the box when it came to walking around the farm. I was tripping out on his balancing skills and his I-got-this! high-beam walking routine. He’d rock the Olympic gymnastic stage.

 

Some kid causing traffic … and my son helping him out.

After all that walking around, my son decided to get behind the wheel. He hates traffic and managed to steer clear of it. But he realized that traffic jams happen on the farm too. But with his city mentality, he was able to get out of that one soon enough.

 

The Beginning of the maze.

After a couple of rides on his mini John Deere tractor, we decided to take the adventure out to the corn. With the sun beating down on us and the smell of food in the air I was hoping we’d get through it pretty quickly. I mean I went to college. I could do this.

 

We saw plenty of these signs on the way.

Getting lost in the maze cracked us up. It took us over twenty minutes to get through it. However, we never made it to the exit. We looped around and then left through the main entrance. Woo-Hoo! Let’s hear it for the college grad. For this valiant effort I decided to buy myself a shaved Hawaiian Ice. A large.

 

My son waving the flag.

Feeling corn-maze victorious, we headed over to one of the main events: The Pig Races. I had never been to one of these before and apparently it was a very popular event as the stands were packed with corn-on-the-cob eating spectators. We witnessed these spry three-month old pigs sprint  through a small obstacle course, and we cheered on the winner. I was happy when they asked for volunteers, because my son became one of the chosen ones. He was the blue flag holder and proud of it. He was pretty excited to see his pig win a race. Other than the mini train tractor ride around the farm, his pig coming in first place was the highlight of his day.

 

The House of Pumpkins.

However, the sun was getting hotter, and my one year-old was getting tired of all the hay and corn, so it was off to search for the pumpkin.

 

On a mission for The Great Pumpkin.

 

The produce.

We came across this funky-looking squash and my son decided it was not Halloween-worthy, so we left it at the farm, and continued our search.

 

The Patch

And wouldn’t you know it … just as we reached the ginormous pumpkin patch, my camera battery died. So most of the pumpkin-choosing memories remain tucked away in my Guat brain. But it’s a good archive, I got lots of pictures stored up in there.  So there were no worries … after all we didn’t go up there to take pictures, but to have a good time and sure enough, we did. Who knew pumpkins, corn on the cob, pig races and Hawaiian Ice would make for a Happiness Project moment. But it did. Pumpkin patches rock, just wish they were a little bit closer.

 

Weekly Image Of Life: October Magic

13 Oct

 

Insanity and chaos in the Superhero aisle of the Party City Costume store.

Overpriced pumpkin carving tools.

Crowded pumpkin patches with smelly petting zoos.

Pumpkin membranes and seeds all over your clothes, shoes, hair, walls and floors. They’re everywhere. Everywhere!

Your Jack-O-Lantern not really looking like a Jack-O-Lantern.

Walking for over an hour to strangers houses just to get a KitKat.

Watching It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown the week before Halloween, on the day before Halloween, on Halloween, and the day after Halloween. I’m surprised the DVD isn’t broken.

However, all of this is well worth it. It’s magic …  the magic of hanging out with my four-year old and one-year old. It’s October Magic.

 

 

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Host of Weekly Image of Life Challenge: This Man’s Journey