Friday, October 28, 2011

Tagging our Christmas Tree

The years that we can fit it into our schedule we like to tag our own Christmas Tree.. surprisingly there aren't very many places around to cut your own tree, never mind pick it out early and tag it to cut down early!  Unfortunately they are only open for two weekends in October for tagging, one of which is Head of the Charles weekend which is generally very busy for us!  So mother nature has to cooperate with us for the other weekend.  This year we lucked out with great weather, and a soccer schedule that allowed us to fit in the tagging between games!  yikes!

Tagging your tree is an event in itself!  You bring decorations to decorate your tree so that everyone knows it is no longer for the taking!!  This year we (okay I!) decided to make birdseed ornaments with the kids!  I found a recipe on-line and we got to it!

We pressed the concoction into cookie cutter to make shapes and poked a hole to tie a string once they dried.

Our masterpieces drying... 

The morning before we left we released the ornaments from the cutters and tied strings on... unfortunately most of the ornaments crumbled!! I later looked up more ornament recipes and found most of them had one key ingredient... gelatin!  Of course I picked the one without it :(  But we did have a few that made it.. and the rest we just scattered over the branches.  I am sure the birds will appreciate it no matter what form it is in!

Caden scopes out a prospective tree...

Cora gets tired of trudging through the tree farm

Cole and Cora really loved this Charlie Brown tree... but unfortunately it does not meet our height requirements :)

We found our tree.. and the kids fought over who would spiral the tagging ribbon around the tree

We decorated the tree with the few ornaments that survived the journey.

Here is one of the ornaments that made it, and then there is what the rest looked like!

Our Tree!  Unfortunately with very few ornaments. next year we'll have to make it spectacular!

On the way back to the farm stand for lunch Cole decided he wanted me to take pictures of him!  I've never denied anyone this request!

Some fall foliage to affirm that it is not Christmas time yet.. thank goodness!!

Recipe for Birdseed Ornaments! (These ones shouldn't crumble as it is a different recipe than the one I used)

Homemade Birdseed Ornaments

4 cups Birdseed
3/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup Hot Water
1 pkg unflavored gelatin
3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

1. Mix the birdseed and the flour in a large mixing bowl.
2. Heat the water in the microwave (you want it hot enough to dissolve the gelatin).
3. Pour the packet of gelatin into the hot water and stir to dissolve.
4. Add the 3 tablespoons of corn syrup to the gelatin mixture (I did all this right in the measuring cup)
5. Pour the gelatin mixture into the bowl of birdseed and flour.

6. Stir until everything is well mixed.

 7. Scoop some of the birdseed into each section of a cupcake tin. (or cookie cutter... or whatever you are using for a mold) Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a hole in each of the sections. This will allow you to put a string through the birdseed ornament for hanging.

Dad's Birthday.. another year older!

I think we are reaching the age where we wish the time would pass just a little bit more slowly to make our next birthday not come so soon!  But alas, they still keep sliding in from nowhere!

Don't ask about the crazy green reflection of the candles.. I thought I bought the UV filter to avoid that.. FAIL!

Four candles, because we ignore the first digit of our age :)

Caden picked out the recipe from our giant box of recipes to try... Grasshopper Pie! It was super delicious as you can see.....!

Happy Birthday Rob!  Hope you enjoy your new Birthday TV!

Bear Brook State Park

We've started exploring the State Parks around our house... this particular weekend we went to Bear Brook State Park to explore the trails and maybe even find said "brook"! We ventured off toward the top of Catamount Hill.

Lovely photo right?!  This is the way we were SUPPOSED to go to (grrr!) instead we followed a way we believed to be a "shortcut", it was a shortcut all right.. straight to the bottom again. 
Unfortunately Cole and the compass were not helpful in this particular situation :) So much for our fun family hike! By the time we figured out our mistake the two littler kids were not so excited to start up the hill again.  So instead we walked back to where we started and had a picnic lunch at the playground and explored the beach area.

Only a little bit of foliage around there.

Cora's hair gets super-charged down these plastic slides!

Fun park! We'll have to check it out again in the summer.. and maybe next time we'll actually get to see the top of that hill!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Corn Maze..we did it!

Each year we go to Elwood orchard for their corn maze.  Last year we arrived for night time maze and couldn't make it out before the kids got too tired.  It was tough last year!  And the dark makes it even harder.  This year we started around six so that it was still light out, but would turn dark while we were in the maze.. worked out to be an EXCELLENT plan!

They were off!  The kids took turns leading the way.

The corn that makes up the maze is used to feed the animals after.  Farmers waste nothing!

Last year we used a system to mark the paths we'd tried.. Caden remembered and decided he'd be in charge of making the X's

Cora loved running through the maze... until she turned around and realized she was all by herself!

Head lamps and flash lights were out!  and we stuck close together.

Hooray!! We found our way out!  and it only took us about an hour.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apple Picking Party 2011.. back again!

We started having an apple picking party each year a few years back.. Last year instead of just having the party on a Sunday, I waited until the soccer schedule came out in September, and then realized it was too late for invites so we missed that year.  But we were back this year!

Being two years older the kids needed activities to keep them busy!  First we painted pumpkins...

Then we had a donut-on-a-string eating contest!  Which was quite hilarious!

The string was a bit challenging for the younger crowd..

You can see here this is Cole's frustrated face... he was not having much luck getting the donut and was getting VERY angry about it!  Soon the donut was swinging through the air, and ultimately landed on the floor.

Charlotte gave a good effort!

But in the end.. everyone just wanted to eat the donut! Mmm tasty cider donuts!

Cole wanted to play again, he makes me feel good about my games :)

After activities and some harvest foods.. apple grilled cheese?!  Yum!  We then headed to the orchard to.. pick apple of course!  On our way to the orchard we passed two of the more popular orchards in town.. more highly frequented by tourists.  But they don't have a hay ride!  or a corn maze.. so we head to Elwood Orchard.  It isn't as big... or as fancy. Their trees may not be the prettiest, but I feel like we are helping to support local business by coming here.  Not to say we don't support the other orchards at other times!  We got the donuts from Sunnycrest!  and our pumpkins (and summer ice cream!) from Mack's.

Look at this little tree!  Cole can even pick apples from the top!

Nothing like a fresh picked apple right from the tree!

Charlotte reminds me of Laura Ingalls (Wilder) from Little House on the Prairie here!  I look forward to reading those books with Cora.. I hope she doesn't find them too old fashioned!

Our harvest!

My lovely non photo-agreeable children :)  How am I ever going to get a Christmas photo??!!!

After we picked our fill of apples we headed to the farm stand for their complimentary hayride around the corn maze! (stay tuned for that visit!)

Cora was not a fan of the hayride at the start.. but warmed slightly by the time it ended.

The day was good fun!  Thanks for coming everyone!  even if you aren't pictured here!