Monthly Archives: October 2014

Pumpkin Carving Ideas

In preparation for all the pumpkin-carving fun that’s coming up this weekend at our pumpkin party, and next weekend for Halloween, here’s some fresh ideas!

Last fall, I blogged about all the crazy ways people are carving pumpkins these days, and how I usually end up with a traditional triangle-eyed, toothy-mouthed jack-o-lantern.  Well, this year I’ve done it again.  A spare couple of minutes spent on Pinterest have inspired me to attempt something a little more adventurous this year. To make sure that I follow through, I’ve enlisted my secret weapon: I showed my 4-year old daughter my plan for one of our pumpkins.   I try not to use this technique to often, because it is sometime just TOO effective!

Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that this will be quite achievable, with a little bit of glitter glue, and not too much intricate carving!

Of course, however there are countless other options for carving out there, this is another one that would be a definite winner in our house:


No-carve pumpkins are becoming more and more popular, and it certainly opens up a whole world of possibilities of what to do (with more than just pumpkins!)


If you’re still looking for ideas, check out these150 ideas for pumpkin-decorating, and here are some basic (and achieveable) carving templates:

Highlights from Kids Club: Chlorophyll and Pumpkin Power


This month’s Kids Club explained what Clorophyll is and why it is important for plants to have light to grow.

Chlorophyll is a pigment that makes plants look green.  Plant leaves also have Xanthophyll and Carotene, which makes leaves yellow and red.  When the days get shorter in the fall, plant leaves don’t get as much sunlight, and the Chlorophyll fades.  Xanthophyll and Carotene do not fade the same way, which is why leaves change colour in the fall.

Here’s the experiment we used to show the different colours; you can try it at home again!


3 leaves (from the same tree)

Rubbing Alcohol


Plastic baggie (or plastic wrap)

Paper Coffee Filter

Small bowl or pan


1.  Have your child break the leaves into tiny pieces and put in the jar

2.  Pour rubbing alcohol over the leaves until they are just covered

3.  Mash and stir the leaves into the rubbing alcohol until the alcohol turns slightly green.  Really give it a good mashing – this is key.

4.  Cover the jar with the baggie or plastic wrap and place the jar in a small bowl and pour hot water into the bowl.

5.  Leave the jar in the water for 30 minutes, swishing the jar occasionally to stir the leaves a bit.  The alcohol should be a very dark green (leave longer if needed).  If you can resist, wait even 45 minutes or an hour.

6.  Cut a strip in the coffee filter so the strip can reach the rubbing alcohol.  Place it in the jar. (You can also just cut a strip off the coffee filter and tape it to the edge of the jar)

7.  The liquid will travel up the coffee filter and the colours will separate as the alcohol evaporates off the coffee filter.  Let this happen for about an hour for the full effect.  The leaves we used turn to a beautiful yellow in autumn.



Plants need sunlight to make chlorophyll, and will grow towards the sun, even if they have to grow around obstacles.  Here’s another experiment to try at home:

The Runner Bean will grow through the maze to the top of the box, in order to get the most sun they can!

Thanksgiving Recipes with Local Produce

I’m not sure about your house, but at mine, it seems like fall is moving very quickly this year! I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is coming up this weekend!  This year we’ll be attending two dinners, one of which will be at our house.  Fortunately, both are collaborative affairs, which mean that I personally won’t have to worry about cooking a turkey, or inventing a complete menu.  One of my favourite things about this style dinner is that it provides some freedom to try new recipes!  Fortunately, there is still lots of local produce available that can make these recipes that much more delicious!

I have a standard Butternut Squash soup recipe that I can make in my sleep, but the addition of the apples and herbs in this one, makes me think that I might need to expand my repertoire a little!

Savory Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash; peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
2 carrots, cut in thick slices
1 med onion, cubed
2 gala apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp of dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup light cream
32 oz vegetable stock, pre-made or from scratch

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss squash, carrots, onion, apples, and garlic in large bowl with olive oil and the dried herbs. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes, or until squash is tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and place the vegetable mixture into a large soup pot over medium heat.

Add vegetable stock.  Simmer for 15 minutes and then remove the pot from the heat. Working in 2-3 batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. You can add more vegetable stock if the soup is too thick. Stir in cream until thoroughly mixed and serve!


I found this recipe in a magazine this summer and LOVED it, and even better, so have guests, AND kids!  As an added bonus, the potatoes can be boiled ahead of time, and the roasting done just before supper, which makes them a bit of a time saver!  I also have added paprika (smoked paprika would make it even tastier I’m sure!) with the salt and pepper, for an added kick.

Baby Red Potatoes (about a dozen or so, depending on size)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes in pan in one layer. Add enough water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are cooked through and can be pierced easily with a fork.Drain potatoes well and pat dry if necessary.

Preheat oven to 450F. Place on baking sheet and gently press each on with your palm to flatten. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt & pepper. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; flip each potato over, drizzling with more olive oil if any looks dry and seasoning with more salt, if necessary. Roast for another 20 minutes or until potatoes are sizzling and crispy.

Serve immediately.