Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Glowing Eyes

So I found this idea on Pinterest, and it was too awesome (and easy!) not to try.


Cut some spooky eyes into empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls (I chopped up a long wrapping paper tube), insert glow sticks, and cover ends with duct tape.


Then hide them around the yard for some spooky Halloween decor. Happy haunting!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Local Attractions: Scherer's Pumpkin Patch

After a week of cold and rainy weather, we were lucky enough to get a gorgeously sunny day for our trip to the pumpkin patch this weekend. 


We went out to Scherer's Pumpkin Patch in Medina, MN. Unlike the apple farms around here, they don't have much to do beyond picking pumpkins, but that's sort of why we like it. We've been going there for quite a few years now (see last year's visit here), and always have a good time!



We had fun wandering through the fields searching for the perfect pumpkin. Abe especially liked the bumpy ones...



They have a couple big pumpkin fields, so there's always lots of pumpkins to choose from. (Just be prepared to get a little muddy if it's been raining!)


We were only planning to get one pumpkin this year but somehow ended up coming home with three! 


If you don't want to pick your own, Scherer's has lots of pre-picked pumpkins too. They also have a bunch of the more exotic and different colored pumpkins if you're looking for something besides the standard orange ones.


We usually pick up a few of their gourds and mini pumpkins too. 


Abe loves tractors, so he's always excited to ride the little ones they have out for the kids. His grandma has an old one like this that belonged to Noah's older brother, but it's missing some parts. We really need to get it fixed up before he outgrows it!


We stopped in the gift shop for some hot cider (they also sell cookies), and Abe picked out a lollipop from their basket of treats for the kids. They also have delicious maple syrup (made with sap collected from trees on the farm!) and other goodies available in their little shop. 


Usually I like to go to the pumpkin patch a bit earlier in the season, but now I'm glad we waited. It was a perfect day for pumpkins!


Scherer's Pumpkin Patch offers the following attractions and amenities (click on the links for more information):

   

The pumpkin patch is located at 2622 Willow Dr. - Medina, MN 55340. They're open 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM starting the second Saturday in September though Halloween. For more information call 763-476-1978.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dinosaur Costume

So this year I fully intended to make Abe a Buzz Lightyear costume for Halloween. If there is anyone who can outshine George in his eyes, it's Buzz. For months he's been running around the house yelling "To ininity...and beyond!" so I figured this costume would be a big hit. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of asking him if he wanted to dress up like Buzz for Halloween. He gave me a flat out "No." What?! How can you idolize someone and not want to dress up as them for Halloween? (I'm pretty sure I was Punky Brewster for at least three years running!) So now what? I could either make a rather complicated costume and hope that he liked it, or come up with a Plan B, but every other idea I offered with was shot down as well. 

Then along came dinosaurs. Abe's been somewhat interested in dinosaurs for awhile now (mainly thanks to Rex on Toy Story), but after seeing a couple episodes of Dinosaur Train, and then watching The Land Before Time at grandma's house a few weeks ago, he's become obsessed. Completely obsessed. Each morning, sometimes before he even eats breakfast, he asks me to make Littlefoot (or Spike...or Sharptooth...or Cera) out of Play-doh. Then he carries my Play-doh creation around for the rest of the day as he plays, eats, and even sleeps (bringing it back for repairs whenever a foot or tail falls off). Incidentally, I've become quite skilled at morphing a brontosaurus into a stegosaurus, triceratops, and even a T. Rex!

Although my hands are incredibly dry from playing with Play-doh so much, his new love for dinosaurs couldn't have come at a better time. It solved my Halloween costume dilemma...and this time I knew I wouldn't even have to make a pattern because I pinned some great dinosaur costume tutorials months ago!


I started by gathering my materials:

hooded sweatshirt and matching sweatpants 
1/2 yard gray fleece 
1/4 yard yellow felt
small bag of Polyfil

I bought the sweatsuit on sale at Target for $12, and picked up the rest of my supplies at Joann Fabrics, where I spent a whopping $6.90 (after using a bunch of 40-50% off coupons). So for less than $20 I've got a costume that he can wear for Halloween and general dress-up, and the pants at least can be reused as everyday clothes.


I followed two different tutorials pretty closely, only adding spots on the tail, pants, and sweatshirt for a little extra embellishment. It went together really fast too! I think I started on it around 8:00 last night, and was done before midnight, even after taking a break to put Abe to bed.


Abe loves his costume (especially the tail) and seems happy with the fact that he can take off the sweatshirt and tail without any help from mom. I wanted to get some pictures of him running around in it outside, but it's been cold and rainy, so I just followed him around the house with my camera. But this costume is made for Minnesota (meaning it's warm!), so when he started getting too hot, he decided it was time to take it off.


For the dinosaur hoodie, I followed this tutorial from Living, Loving, Learning Naturally. She suggested cutting a line down the back of the hood and sweatshirt, inserting the spikes, and sewing it back up. At first I was nervous about basically destroying the hoodie, but then I realized that I wanted to keep the dinosaur costume intact for dress-up purposes anyway, so there was really no point in trying to keep the sweatshirt in pristine condition. Plus, her technique made this part of the costume sooooo easy! FYI I cut two lines - one from just below the neck seam to the top of the waistband, and another from just above the neck seam to the hem at the edge of the hood. That way the hoodie is still held together in critical places and I didn't have to worry about a weird seam on the front of the hood.


My only addition to her design was the felt spots I stitched onto the front of the sweatshirt. It looked a little plain from the front without them.


I added a couple to the sweatpants too. Otherwise, the sweatpants were left as is.


For the dinosaur tail, I followed this tutorial from Running with Scissors. I followed her instructions except when it came to the spikes. I made those from felt (2 pieces stitched together to help them stand up), and they're all individual pieces instead of one long row of spikes. I mainly did separate spikes to make it easier on myself. My sewing machine and I don't get along, so rather than try to pivot around the point of each spike (like I'd have to do if I was working on a full row of them) I just did two separate lines of stitching up the sides of each triangle. If you look closely they're not perfect or very professional looking, but I only wanted to throw my sewing machine out the window once during this whole process, so I'll take that as a win!


Oh, and the other spot where I strayed was the velcro. I only had self-adhesive velcro (which I'm not entirely sure is meant to stick to fabric), but if there's one thing I hate more than sewing buttonholes, it's sewing velcro. I just stuck in on the waist straps and miraculously it has stayed put! Once the tail was fully assembled, I stitched a few spots here and there and voila! 


Instant and adorable dinosaur. I must be part T. Rex because I could just gobble him up! 

Anyone else making Halloween costumes? How's it going? I'm so glad to be done early this year. I'm pretty sure I finished his wolf costume just before we headed out trick-or-treating last year!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Art

Abe can barely wait to carve pumpkins this year...only problem is, the squirrels are waiting too. Since we don't want them all chewed up on Halloween, we'll have to wait a bit longer, so for now we've been working on other Halloween art projects to keep us busy.


First, we made these simple paper jack-o-lanterns. I cut out various shapes for the eyes, nose, and mouth and Abe glued his favorites onto two big orange circles. (We used my preferred method of working with paste and toddlers: pour a small amount of glue into a dish and give them a paintbrush to apply the glue where they want it. Glue sticks are a little tricky for kids this age, and handing a toddler an open bottle of glue is a recipe for disaster!)


We also made some stamp paintings using Halloween cookie cutters. He really enjoyed dipping them in the paint and identifying the various shapes and colors...


...although most of the shapes were unrecognizable by the time he was done. He had fun though, and happily showed his "Happy Halloween!" paintings to Daddy when he came home from work.


Last year we made a footprint ghost (which now looks so cute and tiny), so when I found this handprint spider I knew we had to make one.  I started by painting a thick piece of cardboard with orange acrylic paint. Once that was dry, I painted Abe's hand and fingers (except for the thumb!) black. We applied his hand to the orange cardboard and pressed down. (He even kept it in place long enough for me to snap a picture!) After wiping the paint off his hand, we repeated the process with his other hand, overlapping the palm prints to make an adorable spider.


I let Abe add a couple googly eyes (we just stuck them in the wet paint - if they fall off I'll glue them on instead), and I used a silver Sharpie to add the little tail of spider silk and his name.


His ghost and spider look so cute together! Now to start brainstorming Halloween print projects for next year...


I think Abe's favorite Halloween project was painting the various gourds and pumpkins we've collected this season. 


When he was done painting, he wanted to add googly eyes to the pumpkins (why should spiders have all the fun?), so I gave him a handful of eyes to stick in the wet paint.


They turned out pretty cute, don't ya think? Maybe we'll add a few feathers to the orange one and keep him around until Thanksgiving. 

Anyone else doing Halloween art projects with the kids? I've pinned a lot of great ideas to my Halloween board on Pinterest. If Abe was old enough, we'd try them all!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Baby Name Options #14 - Color Names

When I was pregnant with Abe, I started making these baby name lists as a way to share some of our favorites with family and friends. Since we wanted to keep them guessing (we didn't tell anyone our final pick until he'd arrived!), I sprinkled in names that we weren't considering but that we found interesting for one reason or another. It was a fun way to pass the time while waiting for our little one to arrive. 

It's hard to stop looking,because when you're expecting, good names pop up where you least expect...like the paint aisle at the hardware store. We already have a couple names we like for this little girl, but until she arrives we'll keep on searching... Won't you join us?

Azure Color name The color of the sky on a clear day...


Cerise French "cherry" This one sounds slightly exotic, yet familiar, thanks to similar sounding names like Elise and Cherise.


Clementine Latin "mercy" I love the name Clementine and the color orange...although the song is sort of sad.


Goldie English "gold" Abe loves Goldy Gopher, so I'm sure he'd be thrilled if we gave his little sister this name. And yes, I had to choose the official gold of the University of Minnesota... 


Grey Color name (also short for Grayson English "the son of the bailiff") The color of the sky on a cold and dreary winter's day...


Hazel English "the hazelnut tree" My niece suggested this one and I actually think it's very pretty (nevermind that the official Pantone color for hazel is atrocious! Nothing like the gorgeous greenish-brown eye color.) It's also my kind of name - mega popular 100 years ago (it was #25 in 1912), then faded and pretty much disappeared by the 70s, only to be rediscovered in 1998. Now it has almost broken into the top 200!


Jade Spanish "green gemstone" I used to really like this name...then I watched one too many episodes of America's Next Top Model. 


Ruby Latin "red gemstone" A sweet name for a little girl that sounds new, but just like Hazel, it was really popular 100 years ago!


Rusty English "red head" I'll always associate this name with Anthony Michael Hall's character in National Lampoon's Vacation.


Sage Latin "wise, healthy" More popular for girls, but I've heard this one used as a boy's name as well.


Sienna Italian place name Also a brown pigment used in painting. Pretty name, not the prettiest color.


Violet Latin "purple" This one could be included on my family name list, and it's one of my favorite flowers (er, weeds?)...and a pretty color to boot!


Do you have a colorful name, or are you considering a color name and want to know what it looks like? I used the Pantone color finder for most of my color swatches. Oh, and you can check out more of my baby name posts here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Insta-Fall

My old phone served me well, but I lived with the broken power button and unreliable camera for too long. When it got to the point that I was unable to answer (and end) calls, I decided it was time for a new phone. So far I love my new phone (Samsung Galaxy S III), and I've been using it a lot to take snapshots of our everyday adventures. Definitely easier than hauling out my big SLR...and easier to share now that Instagram is available on Android devices. Here's a few of our favorites that I've posted this fall:


If you're on Instagram, you can follow me @michelledupuis. If you're not on Instagram, you can follow my feed on Facebook instead. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Local Attractions: Minnetonka Orchards

We've been going to Minnetonka Orchards since I was a kid. Back then there wasn't a petting zoo or train rides or face painting. We occasionally got to go on a hayride, and if we were lucky we'd stop in when they had the big pile of hay bales that we could climb on. I remember the black lab that used to greet us in the parking lot (always wearing a bandanna around its neck), and the hot apple cider they served in the barn. We'd sample all the apples in the barn and always left with a big bag of our favorites (I think that's why my mom went in the first place - the apples were probably cheaper at the farm than in the grocery store).


Back then everything we did at the apple farm (besides the hayride) took place either in or around the barn. When I came back years later with my husband's family, I was amazed to see how big the farm really was...and how much it had changed.


I'll always love the old apple farm, but since I don't live 5 minutes away anymore, I'm glad they've added a few more kid-friendly attractions to make the trip out there worthwhile.


Of course they still have the hay pile, which Abe and his cousins love to jump and climb on.


There's a small petting zoo with sheep, goats, and bunnies...


...and a corn maze. Don't get lost!


They have a regular hayride that goes around the farm, but the kids were just as happy with this mini-train. Abe had so much fun, he happily waved to anyone who was watching.


At the Feed Hut you can buy burgers, brats, and beverages (there's another one up by the apple barn), and nearby there's a small playground area with some picnic tables, a sandbox, and a wooden train that the kids love to climb on.


Seriously, Abe could have played on that train all day! 


They also have a big corn silo for kids to climb in. Abe loved climbing to the top, but the slide was steep and he had the most terrified look on his face coming down. Probably better for older kids.


We also went on the hayride through the woods. As we drove under this pterodactyl, the tractor driver pulled on a string making his wings flap up and down. 


The hayride makes a few stops along the way. You can get off at the apple barn, the play area, or to pick apples in the orchard. We headed to the apple barn for a picnic lunch.


Whenever we go to the apple farm, I have to get an apple brat...and apple donuts and cider. 


The barn has been around since I was a kid, but now it's been turned into more of a gift shop. They sell all kinds of food items and knick-knacks. You can also buy bags of already picked apples at the barn.


The Donut House is just outside the barn. They weren't selling hot apple cider that day (it was unusually warm), so I settled for a bag of donuts instead.


It was hard to resist eating the whole bag right then and there, but I think we managed to save a few for breakfast the next morning.


After lunch we headed off to the orchard to pick apples. Abe had to pull out his map to find out where the best apples were. 


Once we found them, we filled a big bag with Honeycrisps and headed home.


They've started growing grapes at the orchard for making wine. One thing I know about wine: it's not so much the grapes they use as where they're grown that makes them special. I think apples are the same way. I'll eat apples from other states, but even ones grown in other parts of Minnesota can't beat the ones I grew up with. In my opinion, the best apples will always come from Minnetonka Orchards.

Minnetonka Orchards offers the following attractions and amenities (click on the links for more information):

          

For more information about apple picking and other events at the Minnetonka Orchards, go to www.minnetonkaorchards.com.

If you're looking for fun things to do with the family in the Twin Cities (or just need some ideas of what to do in your own town), check out our other favorite local attractions right here.