Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Harvest Party

Friendly backyard deer came to our first annual Family Halloween Harvest Party. However, they were here a week early and weren't actually invited. They ate everything in sight and left without their party favors. The nerve! Well, at least most of the rest of us behaved ourselves today! (I'll tell you about "Rodent" in a sec!)

Grandma's major challenge was to provide something to harvest despite the litter of crumbs left behind by the aforementioned "early birds." Fortunately, generous foliage still blankets the ground, making a fine bed for nestled pumpkins. Uncle Rick and Aunt Jackie (Karen's parents-in-law) provided those from the bounty of their multi-acre property, an Eden so plant-friendly that some pumpkin seeds even appear uninvited to grow themselves into behemoths! Wish I had that skill. But thank goodness I know how to shop! The lady guests found party favors out here too - pumpkin shaped hand soap dispensers tagged just for them. So, fruit abounded in our barren patch after all, and the kids had a delightful time choosing their favorites!

Grandma's Pumpkin Patch 2012.....a bountiful harvest of cuteness!

Sae hit it off right away with this handsome specimen!

I dunno!
Maybe I cluelessly planted onions instead of pumpkins!

But what were the kids told about the pumpkins they harvested today? As tempting as it was, I didn't tell them that what they picked was what they'd planted last spring. In the end, I told them the truth. Grandma is simply a gardening doofus who, for all she knows about the process, probably inserted the seeds upside down. I just couldn't lie to my grandkids and I promised myself that I never will. After all, it's about this time of year that I begin to remind them how Santa and his elves start to watch all of us very carefully so he can make his toy list based on what he observes us doing! :)

This is the biggest our pumpkins ever got - plump little hors d'oeuvres for the deer!

"Ahem! Excuse me! There's someone in here!"

Now, back to the party!

Once inside, I handed the kids a set of cards with pictures of eight monsters to find. They were hidden throughout the house. Most had the sense to duck behind chairs or in closets, but Rodent? Oooooh noooooo! Rodent not only hid in the bathroom but the little imp decided to TP the entire room while he waited to be found! With six arms at his disposal, the task was a cinch to complete!

Eating was casual. Grab a Maca-moldy Monster from the counter! Grandpa grilled, too, and there was an autumn beer selection for the guys. While we gathered to craft, I started on a wonderful recipe for pumpkin flavored frappe that served as both coffee and dessert. See below for more details!

One project was spooky paper wind socks as described in last week's post. Hanging samples were accompanied by an arrangement of every kind of supply needed. An adult or two teamed up with each grandkid to make a pumpkin, ghost, skeleton, or green monster.

Busy little Bree...not sure what she's doing, but she sure is busy!

Our gallery of finished windsocks is now open for your inspection!..................

This is the most "girlie" Halloween windsock I have ever seen!
 But then Christy and her daughter, Bree are the most girlie-girls I have ever seen, too!

Bree's Nana made the one on the left for her. We love the cute ears!


The twins opted for abstract designs, allowing for ample application of their favorite media: GLITTER!

Some random things, such as pumpkin seeds, were glued on, too!

The second project was a pumpkin seed packet for each family to decorate and fill with what I removed and washed from a cute little "pumpkin pie" pumpkin. Everyone took their packet home to safely store until next spring when it will be time for our first annual Family Pumpkin Race! We will all plant on the same day and communicate our growing progress through email pictures. There will be prizes for the first sprout, first fully formed bud, first open blossom, first fruit and of course, the first edible pumpkin. At next year's party we'll gather in the kitchen with the grandkids to make puree or a pie or something else really good from what we raced to grow.

The idea for a home made seed packet came from Connie at Family Home and Life. Look here for a nice, free printable. Connie's are beautifully decorated and ready to cut out and fill, but I just used her outline as a pattern so we could stamp our own. I really like the idea of demonstrating the cycle of plant life this way. I think from now on I'll use it as a project at "the kids' table" on Thanksgiving Day.

A few crazy things happened during the party! For example,  "candy-pooping" wind up monsters came unexpectedly toddling along as we worked on our crafts. The kids' reactions were priceless and well worth the embarrassment of checking out with them at, of all places, JoAnn Fabrics! The lady picked them up gingerly and said, "I'm afraid to ask!" I'm sure she was wondering why a woman of grandma age would buy three plastic pooping monsters! Well, hello! Because she is a grandma, that's why! - and if they weren't $4 each I would have bought 'em ALL! And HA! I noticed on my next visit to the store that the pooping monsters had all been sold! That lady looked "grandma-ish" too, and probably ran back to grab the rest of 'em for herself on her next break!

The thing I enjoyed most about this event was watching the kids working on their crafts alongside the adults they love best. There is so much nasty, negative influence in the world and I am an advocate of making home a safe, happy place for learning wholesome things to do. When adults participate too, credibility is lent to these activities.

My party would not have been the success it was without inspiration from blogs I follow and enjoy. "Family Home and Life" provided the "blueprint" for a harvest season family gathering that combines food, fun, and a group craft project. "I Gotta Create" is a wonderful source of craft and food ideas, and Christina, the author of that site, found the excellent pumpkin frappe recipe at "Inspirations By D" and directed her readers there. And finally, to see the entire clan of papier mache monsters that I made for my grandkids, check out this past post because it will take you to a page of instructions to make your own set of family-friendly monsters -  if you happen to be a "monster making" kind of person like I am!

Happy Harvesting, everyone!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Halloween Marathon #6 Windsock Workshop

A skull, a monster, a ghost and a pumpkin...each one a "breeze" to construct!

I love projects that have a "bigness" to them....ones that start on manageable sized paper and just keep growing and growing and blowing up into something that can't help but be noticed. Kids are always thrilled when they create something huge, and frankly, so am I! I loved testing these simple paper wind socks by running like a crazy woman through the house (trailed by six excited cats!) and listening to the satisfying rustle of crepe paper streamers. Yep, I think the kids are gonna love 'em - this is what we're making on Sunday for the crafty part of our Family Halloween Harvest Party!

Cut very lightweight 22" x 28" cardboard into 7" x 22" pieces to yield four bodies. Mark the mid point so kids can center the faces there. Provide paper scraps, scissors, craft punches, glue, and glitter to create the characters. When faces are complete, glue the ends of crepe paper strips to the bottom edge of reverse side. You will need 11 strips for each wind sock. Begin gluing in the center so there is room at each end to overlap and close the tube later. The length of these strips will determine whether the finished project is petite or a real monster of a decoration! Close the tube using "duck tape." Choose either colors that match the paper or cover silver tape with a strip of paper to match the background. Punch two holes along the top edge sides, string curling ribbon through, then knot and hang.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween Marathon #5 Spider-ettes

It has been two years since little fingers this delicate - "spidery," you might even say - have been part of the family! What to do with those teeny tiny digits is for me, a no-brainer! Two pairs of hands won't fit inside an 8" x 10" frame forever you know! My twin girl grandbabies are one month old today. Halloween is approaching. I have non-toxic black craft paint, a frame and a double mat I cut myself from scrapbook paper. I also bring hard-earned, hands-on experience to the printing table. Through trial and squirming error I know that there are ideal age ranges for projects of this type. Our current "snug little baby in a burrito" stage is one of them. The self-confident but compliant two-to-four year old "I-know-exactly-how-to-do-this-because-grandma-taught-me-'ages ago'" is another. Good luck with everything in between!*

I want to mention that Pinterest abounds with spiders like this. And I always try to be considerate and conscientious about giving proper credit when I use an idea that's not my own. However, the situation gets a little complex when I remember that 20 years ago my daughters had their hands printed this way in pre-school. I think, for a long time, creative elementary teachers have been working out seasonal variations of the timeless Kindergarten turkey that I myself proudly made and brought home many, many autumn moons ago! So, if you opt to pin my twin baby "spider-ettes" you are certainly welcome to, with the understanding that the idea has been shared and enjoyed by doting parents and clever teachers for a long, long time! And how do I know this? Because I'm a grandma, that's why!

I can't emphasize enough how much the mommies of my grandchildren appreciate the effort that goes into the printed capture of busy little hands and feet. This year, the girls were delighted to bring out the framed ghost feet I made for them last year and observe the evident growth of their children. I am so glad that I bothered with the momentary mess and wiggling little bodies. That's why I'll be back every year to do more of the same!

* I'm not recommending that you pass by the adorable six month-to-two year age stage and an opportunity to create a cherished family keepsake. I'm just saying that you will need several (strong) people to assist you, a stack - not a sheet! - of paper to print on and not only NASA issued clothing but a room full of furniture and accessories that don't mind being "fingerprinted." Oh, and paper towels! LOTS of paper towels...and soap! Several bars! Maybe some candy too, to use as a bribe. And never attempt this project right before nap time! Wait until after. No, never mind! Too much energy! Oh, I don't know! Can you manage to print while the little cherub is asleep?

Eensy-weensy spiders...two of  'em! ...and both conveniently at the age where grandma decides where to put the paint, not the "baby spiders" themselves!

Ava, at left, and Angeline nap contentedly after their very first crafting session! xxxoooxxx

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Halloween Marathon #4 oooo! MONSTERS!

If you have little boys in your life, you also have MONSTERS in your life. I know this. Personally. During the twenty-some years I lived with three daughters, the "M word" was never mentioned. Not once. No reason for it. We were even passed up by those critters who make their living lurking under little kids' beds, grunting and scratching in the middle of the night, alerting parental five alarm flashlight rescue brigades. And we were all okay with that.

But now I have grandsons in my life. And along with them came MONSTERS! And I'm okay with that, too!

I can't really say that they are an obsession here, but certainly they are noted. Pointed out in books. Discussed. Wondered about. Not feared really, but just regarded as curiosities that are part of everyday life. And when you are a grandma who is involved in the everyday lives of your grandsons, monsters have a way of creeping in and becoming part of your everyday life too! On that authority I suggest that it's never a bad idea to have some on hand. But where do you get monsters? And what do you do with them once they arrive? Well, my dear, read on.....!

Unlike ghosts and skeletons, monsters are not confined to the celebration of Halloween. Monsters are welcome all year around. They appear at birthday parties and on the jammies of three year old boys. You'll find them peeking through windows and showing up, uninvited, for story time. They hide in the woods behind grandma's house, just at dusk, so you can hold tightly to mommy and daddy, flashlight in hand, and go out searching for them like we did last spring.

Monsters not only make fun, but they are fun to make, mostly because you can never make a mistake making a monster! Forgot the nose? Cute! Eyes falling off? Cooool! Three arms?  OMG adorable! Dripping glue and paint? LOL HILARIOUS!

I make my monsters from papier mache. Basic needs are newspaper, masking tape, glue, flour, paint...and a handfull of the fun stuff you have in your junk/craft box.

The monster you see here is "Zippy." His mission is to crash your Halloween party this year! At 33" tall, he might be a formidable guest to dislodge. Oh, let's just let him stay! He says he loves grilled cheese and those little "witch's toes" appetizers he saw on Pinterest!

If you would like to make a monster like Zippy or any of his clan, here's where I have step-by-step instructions for you!

Happy Monster-eeeen!