...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Green Your Halloween

A gorgeous autumn day at the pumpkin patch just after the storm.
With this haunting holiday just around the corner, I'm always most frightened by the various forms of excess it brings.  We've ventured to the pumpkin farm to make our selections (because we missed the last farmers' market) and now my plans to make the holiday somewhat healthy, happy, and low impact will soon be realized.  Way back in late August or early September--on a thrift store jaunt for some actual things on our list--we realized they'd already begun to display Halloween costumes.  Thought I might make something for V this year, but once she eyed a ladybug costume that was only a couple bucks, I couldn't turn it down.  It was reused, inexpensive, practical, and something she might play with well after the holiday until we pass it along to the next person.  I'm also saving myself some sweat and tears by going with pre-made.  (Perhaps one day I'll follow in my mom's footsteps and make homemade costumes year after year.)

Feeding the goats at the pumpkin farm
One thing I'm not afraid of is admitting I'm concerned about the excess intake of sugar; artificial colors, dyes, and sweeteners that can often be too much for anyone to stomach let alone the growing body of our little one.  I realize people have varying opinions on this once-a-year chance to "be a kid," and I respect that, but I do not wish to contribute to it.

Last year was the first time we actually went trick-or-treating.  Our block has gained a reputation as the "Gold Coast" for candy and because our neighborhood's t-o-t is on a separate night than the citywide extravaganza, we see tons of people who drive in from all corners of the metro area.  This year a neighbor requested to block off a 7/10 mile stretch of our street.  They're calling it the "Miracle Mile."  Whew, that's a lot of candy.  In the past when we've stayed home to hand out treats we've run out in the first hour (of three) even with one piece per kid and four or five econo bags from the big box store (cue Ben pulling out a bulk bag of local organic carrots in a purely desperate attempt to keep the ghouls at bay...apparently a dark porch no longer means "we're not participating" or simply "we're out of candy.")  Last year V lasted about half of the allotted t-o-t time and when we returned she had a blast handing her collected goodies back out to the other kids (after we once again ran out way before we planned.)  Because of the shear volume of treats that go out our door we've realized we can't afford to hand out the organic hard candy or fair-trade chocolates we bought the first year in our 'hood (BIG lesson learned.)
Field corn at the pumpkin patch
This year, along with many likeminded friends and moms, I'm handing out alternatives.  I ordered about 500 super funky, gender-neutral, fun-for-all-ages adhesive bandages from Smile Makers (the website from which you'd order stickers and other goo-gaa if you ran a doctor's or dentist's office catering to children.)  I also found a new bag of ghoulish rubber finger puppets at the thrift store, which I may hand out to any familiar neighbor kids who show up on our stoop.  Other friends are choosing to hand out pencils, stickers, spider rings, and other fun seasonal goodies.  I'm excited that our treats will be functional as well as low-sugar.  If (big IF) we have any leftovers, we won't have to worry about them staring at us all week saying "eat me."  Instead we'll have our first-aid kit stocked for the season.  (P.S.  If all that's not enough of a selling point, our stash cost me probably 1/3 of what others have spent to accommodate the candy needs of the masses of costumed visitors.)

Pumpkins pumpkins everywhere
Another alternative if you can't resist trick-or-treating is that after the kiddos have reserved a few treats for themselves, find a local dentist who will participates in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program.  Kids get coupons for cool stuff and their candy gets sent to our troops overseas making their days brighter knowing someone's thinking of them.  This is also an opportunity for kids to practice "giving back."

Heading out to the pumpkin patch
For other Green Halloween tips this is just one of many websites I'm sure one can find these days on the topic.  It doesn't have to be all sugar-coated and wasteful, which to me is more SCARY than anything.  Regardless of what you choose, remember to be safe and have fun!

Making a very careful selection

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