Friday, October 31, 2014

Countdown to Halloween 2014

October 19th - Caramel Apple Dessert

To kick off the countdown to Halloween this year, we had a special treat for dessert: caramel apples. These weren't ordinary caramel apples. No, these were ones that were easy for Olivia to eat (since she has braces) plus had some special toppings.

After the girls drizzled melted caramel sauce onto peeled and sliced apples, they could add chocolate chips, chopped peanuts, and sprinkles to embellish their dessert.

It was fun to choose how to customize our desserts.

This is something that we all agreed we'd like to do again next October.

October 20th - Choosing Pumpkins

This year we didn't have any success with growing pumpkins. We're wondering if the decline of the bees (native and domestic) is the reason since everything else we've been doing is the same as in past years.

That being said, there's a pumpkin patch that did very well that's about 7 or 8 minutes from our home. We ended up going there to get pumpkins.

The girls ran through the field since it was rather chilly and they didn't have coats. They found some pumpkins they liked as well as gourds and Indian corn.

This year, though, they didn't want to carve pumpkins. So, we just put them out as decorations near the gate leading to our back door. 

October 21st - Mummy Hot Dogs

We've made Mummy Hot Dogs for several years now around Halloween. Basically, you take a can of crescent rolls, unroll the dough and separate it into pieces; and then wrap each piece around a hot dog.

There are instructions on the can that tell at what temperature and how long to bake the rolls. We always follow that.

We had vegetables and fruit with our Mummy Hot Dogs.

October 22nd - Spider Donuts

For this breakfast, we used chocolate covered mini-donuts, pretzels, and vanilla frosting. Before we got started, we broke the pretzels into curved pieces. We ended up breaking more pretzels into non-curved pieces than curved ones. At this point we wondered if it wasn't more trouble than it was worth.

At any rate, the next step was to make small holes with a knife into the side of the donut. We made three on each side. 

Then, insert the pretzels into each hole.

Add some frosting for the eyes.

And there you have it.  A spider donut. The spider could be standing on its legs....

or the legs could be coming out of its upper-back. In that case, the spider is rather immobilized and unable to walk.

We each made one spider and were satisfied with that. We didn't want to make all the donuts we ate into spiders. We were hungry and just wanted to eat.

October 23rd - Monster Tacos

One of our favorite meals during the days leading up to Halloween are monster tacos. We normally get taco chips, but for this meal we used taco shells.

We prepared the taco meat as usual and had a variety of toppings we added in addition to the basic ones needed to make a Monster Taco: shredded cheese, two olives per taco, and a thin slice of tomato for the tongue.

We made different versions...took pictures of our Monster Taco...and then added some more toppings (like onions, peppers, lettuce, and salsa).

It's a simple, but filling meal.

October 24th - Volunteering at the nursing home

Sophia, Olivia, and I helped the seniors at the nursing home to decorate bags for preschool children who would be visiting them on the 31st.

There were stickers, foam figures, and other embellishments that we used to decorate the bags.

For some, the project was challenging; and for others it was easy.

After we worked on the bags, we went to the dining room and helped served root beer floats while a pianist played the keyboard.

October 25th - Halloween Party with Northwoods

We had high hopes that Cooper and Aspen could tolerate wearing Halloween costumes this year to a party that benefits Northwoods Humane Society (where we adopted both dogs).

It turned out to be more challenging than we anticipated.

Cooper was supposed to be The Big Bad Wolf dressed up as Grandma (he wore a nightgown and was supposed to wear a cap held in place with big black furry ears).

Aspen was supposed to be Little Red Riding Hood.

She managed to wear the red cape (although it kept falling to the side) and the white blouse, but the hood kept coming off because her ears stand upright.

We played games (both the girls and the dogs).

For some reason, both the dogs weren't interested in getting the tennis balls out of the water tank.

At home, they enjoy fishing out ice cubes from the water bowl, but the tennis balls weren't capturing their attention. Maybe it was just too much to take in for them.

We also had a snack and participated in a costume contest. It was an enjoyable afternoon and wore out the dogs (which was an extra bonus).

October 26th - Boonilla Shakes

We have made Boonilla Shakes before and enjoyed them. This year, Sophia found a new recipe for vanilla shakes so we tried that recipe. It was equally as good as past years.

Before pouring the shake into the glass, we spread some hot fudge sauce on one side to represent a ghost's face.

The sauce stays in place while you're eating the shake if you carefully pour it into the glass. the case of Sophia, enjoying the shake out of a mug was just as tasty as the other version with the hot fudge sauce.

October 27th - Witch's Hat

The girls were eagerly waiting for this day when it was the witch theme. They knew that we'd be making the hats again this year with the cheese in a can (something I don't normally purchase).

To make a witch's hat, you put some cheese onto a round cracker.

Then place a bugle on top of the cheese and press down.

It's as simple as that.

For those who really like cheese, as shown above, add some more cheese around and up the witch's hat.

October 28th - Fruit Owl

Looking for something a bit more healthy, I came across an owl made from different types of fruit. The body of the owl is a half of a pineapple. Its eyes are orange slices with a blueberry in the center; and the beak is an orange segment cut into a triangle. 

The wings are apple slices, and the feet are limes. Around the owl are strawberry halves and cherries.

We all enjoyed the fresh fruit, and had more than enough for several extra meals.

October 29th - Vampire Pizza

Perhaps because it was past dinner time and we were hungry, but I was the only one who wanted to try to shape the pizza dough into a vampire head.

The girls were content with seeing what I came up with, while they created their own pizzas with favorite toppings. For Olivia that was pepperoni and cheese.

For Sophia, that was pepperoni, green peppers, onions, and cheese.

We baked the pizzas, and laughed when we saw how the vampire pizza came out.

Nonetheless, the pizzas tasted great...and we would make them again.

October 30th - Candy Corn Fruit Bowl

We did this last year as well, and it's a simple side dish for a meal. The bottom layer is pear slices, the middle layer is mandarin oranges, and the top layer is whipped cream.

The colors are supposed to resemble what candy corn looks like. This is a much healthier version of the candy, though.

October 31st - Halloween!!

We volunteered at the nursing home in the afternoon. Sophia and Olivia dressed up, and as we entered the building we saw one of our favorite residents (Annabelle) with her daughter, Shelly. Annabelle was dressed as the Good Witch and Shelly was the Bad Witch.

The staff, some of the volunteers, and residents' family members dress up and participate in a costume contest. Each person receives a number and they go around the dining room where the residents are sitting. 

The residents are the judges and vote on the costume they like the best.

Before the votes were tabulated, the group gathered for a photo showing all the costumes.

We had a great time as did the residents; and we'd enjoy doing this again next year.

When we came home, we had a bit of time for the girls to get ready to go out trick-or-treating. Olivia dressed as a princess.

She and Sophia thought the dress looked like a short version of the one that Belle would have worn.

Sophia dressed up as a vampire. She even had a mouthpiece so it looked like she had fangs.

The girls were ready to go trick-or-treating even when it was still light outside.

Our first stop was the fire station where there is a free dinner, games, and bonfire each year. The Lions, fire department, and a local church sponsor the event. 

The girls played some games and won candy.

Next we went to a little cafe that is transformed each year into a haunted house. They do a great job.

They have people sitting around who pass out candy. There were also little figurines that would sing and dance. I don't know why I haven't noticed them in the past.

After that, we went around trick-or-treating. The girls got quite a bit of candy.

It's always fun to see the houses and senior cottages decorated for Halloween. Although it was chilly outside, the girls had a great time. It was a nice evening.

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