Pumpkins, Cider, Frangelico, and Candy

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a thing for pumpkins. Not necessarily pumpkin-flavored stuff – although I do love me a good Pumpkin Spice Latte… and Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter is fabulicious… as is their whipped pumpkin cream cheese… and the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies we made earlier in the week were delish… Okay, so I just like pumpkins. Round, squat, tall, skinny, tiny, red, white, golden, gourd-shaped, oval, with stem or without… Pumpkins are basically the squash of multiculturalism and world peace.

Plus, they’re awfully festive.

In the past, we’ve made do with simply carving pumpkins (ALWAYS FROM THE BOTTOM, people. THE BOTTOM!!), but somehow this year the girls were looking over my shoulder while I was browsing Pinterest and several decorated pumpkins caught their eye… And suddenly, we found ourselves at Michael’s at 5 p.m. on a Sunday filling our cart with acrylic paint, Mod Podge, oodles of fake pumpkins in all shapes and sizes, glittery spray paint, and even my mortal enemy, superfine glitter.

Over the course of the next ten days, we took some much-needed down time and decorated pumpkins till our fingers were practically glued together. The dining room still looks like a craft store exploded in there, and we will be finding bits of glitter dust in every one of our belongings until Valentine’s Day, but it was worth it.

Although Nick may disagree. Sorry, honey.

They first decorated pumpkins with glowing puffy paint. It was a good thing they chose the particular pumpkins they did, because only a few days later, they’d rotted through and left a layer of pumpkin-y mold on the table. Yay! I love pumpkins!
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This one says “Annie”, although it’s a bit hard to read…

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Annie’s is on the left; Ella’s says “BOO”, but again, hard to read with the lights on.

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Unfortunately, with the lights OFF, I could’t quite get the photos to come out. Ah, well. Trust me. They were cool.

They painted and glued and glittered their hearts out.

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The artist, very serious about her work.

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Annie’s I-Spy pumpkin

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What’s a painter’s palette without a hole for the thumb?

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I may hate it, but superfine glitter makes for mighty cute punkins.

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This was one of my favorites; you may notice it missing in later photos, because I gave it to my grandma. I’m a giver – what can I say.

I think I’ve mentioned this, oh, 438 times or so before, but we absolutely love our neighborhood. Kids everywhere (actually playing outside! In all weather! Without parents around! Riding bikes! Making forts! Sledding! BEING KIDS!!), wonderfully generous and kind neighbors, loads of families. It’s just a great place to be.

We really, reeeeally lucked out, though, because we knew nothing about Rochester when we moved here six years ago – in fact, I’d never even seen our house before we moved into it. Nick had seen it, and he emailed video, but still… I’d never set foot in it. Turns out we moved to the best place, ever, but man… Lucky.

Our first year here, although we’d liked everyone we met, we hadn’t exactly gone around door to door and said, “Hi! We’re new here! Want to be friends?” As Halloween approached, we decided that one way to meet people would be to offer up more than just candy. If we, for example, provided donuts and cider, perhaps people would have a reason to chat for a minute, and we’d actually come to know our neighbors. Plus we’d be known as that cool house that gives out free food.

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007… the beginning…

As the years have gone by, the basics have remained these same – the garage is open for candy, food, drinks, and fun – but we’ve changed and added things here and there. We’ve learned that if you don’t order Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts ahead of time, all they’ll have left at noon on Halloween are the cinnamon ones, and then the neighborhood kids will avoid your house, not flock to it. We now have both hot and cold cider, coffee, and a few years back Nick began offering *ahem* adult additions to the coffee and cider, too. Some years, we’ve brought the fire pit around on especially chilly evenings.

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Mickey and Hello Kitty enjoy getting warm.

This year, inspired in part by my Pinterest searches, and also looking for a way to distract myself and stay busy (my therapist says this is called “grieving” – who knew?), I decided to spice things up a bit. Instead of just exposing everyone to the junkiness of the garage, I hung sheets and curtains to enclose the space and hide our crap. I strung lights (to create the mood, you know), and, because the two tables we’d been using in the past had grown crowded, I added a third one.
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I saw this (again, Pinterest – holla!) and thought it would be awfully fun, but even though Ella is a Harry Potter fanatic, she thought it was a bit too dramatic. Instead, the girls opted for this, specifically with the question mark, “Because that makes it funny, mom.” Thank God no one asked for a trick.
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I’ve had the awesome light-up marquee for years, dating back to my earliest days as a music teacher. I don’t pull it out too often these days, but it always makes an appearance on Halloween.

In years past, the only decorations have been our carved pumpkins, but since we’d spent so much darn time decorating our gazillions of pumpkins, I thought it would be festive to haul ’em out and put ’em on display.

I have no idea when we started handing out things like tattoos and stickers – maybe one year when we had extras leftover from Ghosting? – but the girls were adamant that we still do so this year. I found some cheapo glow bracelets on Amazon, which turned out to be a surprise hit – even the pre-teens were asking me to help put them on their wrists. Go figure.

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The black pumpkin? Chalkboard paint. How fun is that?!

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Ready for their close-up…

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I-Spy makes his debut…

The candy table held still more of our creations, from Ella’s meticulously decorated flowering vine pumpkin to Annie’s purple and green creation.
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I was determined to make the glittery stack of pumpkins in the back. The BOO letters came un-glued as I was setting them outside, but they still looked fun. Plus, those pumpkins are fake, so I can add them to the stash of other Halloween decorations I’ve hoarded lovingly collected over the years.

The real draw: food and drink, yo. This year, I’d found a yummy homemade hot chocolate recipe and decided to add it to the mix – turns out, even on a warmer night, hot chocolate is super popular. Especially when you add Frangelico to it. Just saying.

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All set to go…

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Still more pumpkins! The eyeball one was a nice touch.

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You can just barely make out my very favorite pumpkin we decorated – the glittery,
drippy paint one at the back.

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The girls decided that they wanted to add food labels – and used their mini pumpkins to do so.

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Quite clever of them, no?

Pretty much every other year, Nick has manned the garage and I’ve been the one to take the girls house to house. I’ve never minded; I enjoy chatting with the other parents we find along the way, and I love seeing their delight as they bound off from door to door, amazed that people are just giving away candy. GIVING. AWAY. CANDY.

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Last year, I probably lost weight while pushing Ella over the river and through the hordes of neighborhood kids. The sacrifices we parents make. SACRIFICES, I SAY.

This year, however, Nick requested that we switch roles. At first, I was hesitant, but he seemed genuinely eager to share the actual treating experience with the girls, so I agreed. And then I posted the following to Facebook:

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First year ever that Nick – at his request – is taking the girls around while I man our candy / donuts / cider / hot chocolate / coffee / glow bracelets. Was originally a bit bummed to miss the girls’ excitement – but it’s sprinkling… The garage is warm and dry… Four trick-or-treaters have asked, “Is this Halloween heaven??”… And I’m looking through Christmas catalogs while stealing candy and drinking hot chocolate spiked with Frangelico. Seems to be a fair trade after all!!

Frangelico aside, the best part of the night was watching the faces of the kiddos – and their parents – as they approached the tables. More than four trick-or-treaters really did ask if they were in heaven (come back tonight when it’s time to shower and you’ll see just how hellish this house can be), and at least a dozen adults took photos with their phones to “show their friends” what was set up. Weird to think that our garage may be appearing on other people’s Facebook and Twitter pages, but at least it’s not because we were caught streaking or anything. Yet.

The worst part of the night was the fact that I was sitting right on top of our candy (okay, not literally, because that would be really, really gross), which meant that I felt free to reach out and take a piece whenever the mood struck. And it struck often. I’d never had an Almond Joy before, and it turns out I think they’re delightful… but they’re less delightful when you’ve consumed three of them alongside at least two dozen other pieces of candy.

No, I’m not kidding (although I wish I were). At least two dozen. I’ve been pretty careful with what I’ve been eating since the week of agony our juice fast, and apparently I decided to blow that out of the water last night. Which is not only kind of stupid, but really, really painful. Literally.

Oh, well. Halloween only comes once a year, right? Plus, surely I burned off some of the Almond Joys by carting all of the pumpkins back into the house.

Next year, no matter who mans the garage and who takes the girls out, it’ll be a good time. I’ll just sit a little farther away from the candy bowl. Like maybe in Ohio.

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2 thoughts on “Pumpkins, Cider, Frangelico, and Candy

  1. Pingback: Thin Ice | All Together in a Scattered Sort of Way

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