Saturday, October 31, 2015

Countdown to Halloween - The Big Day!

Today we did our Halloween activities in the morning since Sophia and Olivia were spending the afternoon/evening and overnight with friends in St. Paul.

For breakfast, we had Jack-O-Lantern Orange Fruit Cups. I saw the idea on a pin on Pinterest that led to Simplee Thrifty.


3 Medium Navel Oranges
1 cup Mixed Fruit (I used cantaloupe, red raspberries, and black grapes that were cut in half)


Slice off the tops of the oranges. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp of the oranges. (Note: when doing this, you are essentially juicing the orange. So, do this step over a cup or bowl so you can drink the orange juice.)

Cut out faces on each orange to resemble a Jack O Lantern. Fill each orange with mixed fruit and serve.

After breakfast, Olivia carved a tiny pumpkin that she picked at Lendt's Pumpkin Patch. We went on a field trip and hay ride with our 4-H club on October 22nd.

Despite its small size, it was filled with seeds.

Shadow was relaxing on the window ledge watching the activity outside in the front yard.

Later on, the girls carved the pumpkins they picked out from Tom's Pumpkin Patch..

As we always do, we set up newspapers on the kitchen floor to do the carving.

We let the dogs in the kitchen after the girls began carving. The dogs both have a lot of puppy energy still so this was an exciting activity for them. Their tails were wagging and they needed to be as close as possible to the action.

They circled around the pumpkin-carving area. Even Shadow came into the kitchen to see what was going on.

Aspen was quite curious as she watched Olivia.

She was fascinated with the seeds and pumpkin-innards that were coming out of the pumpkin.

Surprisingly, for the size of the pumpkins, there weren't a lot of seeds.

There still are, though, plenty to make roasted pumpkin seeds tomorrow.

I'm going to be following a recipe from a pin that led to Hudson Valley Magazine for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.


1½ cups pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil or non-stick cooking spray
1 tsp salt


Separate seeds from pulp and strings. Rinse in water and pat dry.

Toss dried seeds in olive oil and place in a single layer on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Or lay flat on baking sheet and spritz with cooking spray.) Season with salt.

Place in 325º F oven, stirring often to ensure even browning until a pleasant aroma is apparent (approximately 25 minutes).

Remove immediately and transfer to pan or plate to cool. May be stored in air-tight container for a few days.

Nutrition facts (per 1 oz. serving): 180 calories, 6g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 16g fat, 240mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

After carving pumpkins, the girls did their annual hand tracing on their candy bags. Olivia picked a spot for this year's hand tracing next to the outline of her hand from the first year of trick or treating in 2004.

In 11 years, her hands have grown quite a bit.

After I traced her hand, I wrote the year and her costume (fallen angel). She added her name and a drawing.

She drew a pair of fallen angel wings. She said it looked more like a butterfly - not wings - though.

It was Sophia's turn next.

The outlines of her hands have moved onto the back of her bag since she's been trick-or-treating longer than Olivia.

After I was done tracing her hand, I added the year and her costume (Good Witch).

She added her name and a drawing of a witch's hat and broomstick.

I'm so happy that we started this tradition when the girls first started trick-or-treating. It's hard to believe how much they have grown. It's also fun to read and remember what costumes they wore each year.

The last thing we did was make deviled eggs with spiders made from black olives. The pin on Pinterest led to a recipe on


6 hard-boiled eggs, halved
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard (I use liquid mustard)
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
Black olives


Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Slip out yolks and mash. Stir in mayonaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Cut whole olive in half. Put one half on mashed yolk for the spiders body.

Thinly slice the other half for the spiders legs. Put four legs on each side. (Note: I only did three legs because the eggs were rather small.)

We left to go to St. Paul so Sophia and Olivia could spend Halloween afternoon and evening with Jaina, Brandon, and Jacob. They are members of our 4-H club, and the kids all have similar interests and along so well together.

The boys were dressed as ninjas, Olivia is a fallen angel, Jaina is an ocelot, and Sophia is a good witch.

They enjoyed lunch together, played together in the afternoon, and went trick-or-treating with other homeschoolers who are part of a social/activity club in the evening.

This is the first year that I haven't gone trick-or-treating with the girls. I will miss going out with them each year, but am so thankful to have had the past 12 years to be able to enjoy with them.

The memories - from those first years when they were toddlers and we spent the holiday with my parents to transitioning to spending Halloween as a family in our town once the girls' older cousins had "aged out" of trick-or-treating to giving the girls the opportunity to enjoy experiencing Halloween with their friends - all have made this day a special one.

So, it's a bittersweet day I not only reflect on these memories, but I recall my parents - my first Halloween without both of them.
...How excited they were when we were children to dress us up in homemade costumes.
...How they went trick-or-treating with us until we were old enough to go on our own.
...How intently they would listen to us tell about the houses we went to and the candy we received.
...The special meals we'd enjoy together as a family - with the table all decorated in orange and black.
...How they doted on Sophia and Olivia when they would come all dressed up in their costumes.

Many good memories.

Many things to be thankful for today.

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