halloween, part I: funny farm

Always on the search for some "good old fashioned family fun," yesterday I dragged Alex and the kids to a pumpkin patch on a Christmas tree farm in Elgin, TX. Sound strange? Just wait...

Fall is my favorite season and since we haven't had much of one in Austin this year, so I decided we could create that quintessential fall experience by visiting a pumpkin patch on Halloween Eve. After visiting the website of Evergreen Farms located outside of Elgin, TX, I decided this would be the perfect place. The site hyped-up the family-friendly Pumpkin Hunt--"a wagon ride into the Christmas tree fields where mini pumpkins are hidden in the trees." Following the Great Hunt, it's suggested that you "enjoy pumpkin painting on the pavilion along with other activities and games." Evergreen farms also listed these FREE activities: wagon ride around the farm, toddler play area,  pumpkin recipes, pumpkin play area, petting zoo, pictures with the pumpkins; and the following activities which cost $2.50 each: pumpkin hunt, pumpkin launcher, pumpkin maze, pumpkin slide, pumpkin train ride, pumpkin golf, pumpkin pond, pumpkin spinner, pumpkin face painting.

After visions of fresh pumpkin bread and warm spiced cider, I was ready to embark on a fun-filled family fall outing (even if it was 78 degrees). So we drove forty minutes outside of Austin past an RV park and through two towns with populations smaller than the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse. We finally reached County Line Road where we were instructed to take a right at the "new" stoplight that had just been installed at the intersection. We drove a few miles down a country road until we turned onto another country road and drove down it until we saw the sign pointing us to Evergreen Farms. After a bumpy and deafening drive down a gravel road we finally reached our destination.

Take note of the picture below. At first glance you see an excited three year-old running wild on a farm. But look closely. The yellow tarp in the background is the so-called "pumpkin pond" and the tangled web of shipping pallets to the right is the "pumpkin maze."

Alex and the kids are about to board the "wagon" for the great Pumpkin Hunt. My knowledge of farm equipment may not be current, but the wagon looked more like a flat-bed tractor (if there is such a thing) to me. Judge for yourself--more pictures of the wagon below:

Following a 60-second wagon ride, we arrived at the Christmas tree fields. I suppose this is what Christmas tree fields look like in Texas. It's kind of sad, but at least we shouldn't have any problems finding a Charlie Brown tree this year.

Scout was really excited finding her first mini pumpkin. Just don't tell her that pumpkins "hidden in the trees" really meant scattered about on the ground in front of you. 

Since I've been a stay-at-home mom, I've come to expect a certain je ne sais quoi about "toddler play areas," and I have to say that this is not what I imagined when I read the description online. I pictured an open area outside with some pumpkins and haystacks and other nature-inspired climbing things for kids. The play area was located inside the pavilion adjacent to the concession stand run by the local church group, where Frito pie is $2. And I'm not sure what that has to do with "Harvest" (or "food" for that matter).

Pumpkin painting, also located on the pavilion, was fine if you wanted to paint your pumpkin green...or black. 

It turns out that the most interesting, and entertaining, part of our time spent at Evergreen Farms was the random tether ball set up somewhere between the pumpkin maze and what I can only guess was the "petting zoo" (if a couple of chickens and the family dog count). For the record, I never saw any pumpkin recipes or a pumpkin train ride or pumpkin golf. I'm not sure what pumpkin spinning is, and the pumpkin pond didn't have any pumpkins in it--just a couple of rubber ducks wearing sunglasses.

But as Alex reminded me on the drive home, "You're not just outside of Austin; you're outside of Elgin."


hello little house

Alex's travels have once again routed him through Charlotte, so today he took a moment to stop by our first home.

Yep--it looks the same. Actually, the plants and chairs and whatnot on the porch are a little cluttered for my liking, but I'm sure they add to the "curb appeal." The gutters could use a cleaning out (I'm glad we don't have to worry about that) and it looks like the annual accumulation of leaves has begun on the front yard. Looking at this picture reminds me that I don't miss owning a home--or rather that home--right now. I just hope the renters aren't around when Alex pulls into the driveway every few weeks to snap a photo on his phone. They might find that a little creepy; however, I'm sure our nosey ex-neighbors are keeping tabs on his actions anyway, so he might get busted one of these days. I can hear him explaining it to the cops right now, "It's okay. I used to live here."


last days of summer

Even though the calendar says November is less than a week away, today the mercury read summertime. While others are carving pumpkins and sipping seasonal lattes, we're enjoying on more bite of watermelon and entertaining thoughts of visiting the pool. I miss my wool scarves and boots, but I know the kids will enjoy a coat-free Halloween next week. Today was supposedly our last--as in final, for real--90 degree day of the "season," and here is how we've spent the waning days of summer in Austin.

Digging for dinosaur bones...

Spotting owls...

Eating wood chips at the playscape...

Taking one last bite of watermelon...


back to the box

There's no shortage of box houses in Austin, and it just so happens that the first one I obsessed over was featured in the October issue of Dwell magazine. Located on a quirky street running through the middle of what quickly became my "favorite neighborhood," I was psyched to see the house in print and learn more about its construction. But I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when I learned that the homeowners plan to live there forever--so much for that dream. At least I can look to it for inspiration when I some day build a sustainable box of my own. That dream is still out there.

Images from Dwell.


in a flash

Another Saturday.
Another Farmers' Market.

This past weekend my mom and sister were visiting Austin for the first time. They were staying downtown, so Saturday morning we met up and ventured down to the (other) Austin Farmers' Market.

Interrupting thought: what did I do with myself before I discovered Farmers' Markets?

The weather was beautiful, the scones were fresh and the coffee revitalizing. In the midst of our morning conversation and musings on what to do for the day, the song "Yes, We Have No Bananas" began piping into the background from some unknown source. At first we thought it was leading off a dog parade until a motley crew emerged from the crowd and gathered in the open field to perform a synchronized dance. My first flash mob!

As tour guide for the weekend, I couldn't have planned it better myself. The dance was entertaining, and I almost wished I knew the moves. At any rate, the combination of flash mob and pumpkin scones (did I mention they also have live music and the popsicles that Catcher loves?) has caused me to reconsider my Famers' Market allegiance. This Saturday I think you'll find me at 4th and Guadalupe. 


eye have it!

Did I mention that I'm officially a Texan? If you can officially be a Texas without having been born here, that is. The ironic thing is that my husband, who was born here, is technically not a Texan. He still carries a North Carolina driver's license. Long story short: we finally made it back to the DPS--remember it's not a DMV here--with all our appropriate paper work and registrations and inspections and...Alex failed the eye exam. I'm not here to make fun of his old age or degenerating eye sight, but his misfortune did spark a note of creativity when I thought that a vintage eye chart would make a pretty cool piece of found art. Bonus points if it lights up.

Restoration Hardware

alphabetcocktail, etsy



spooky hobby

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays--if we don't count last year's fiasco--but I'm clearly not the crafty type when it comes to costumes and decorations. This year Scout is going to be the shark that Catcher was for his first Halloween. One of the reasons is because he only wore the costume for thirty seconds to take a picture (literally) and the other is that when I was going through Catcher's old clothes to donate them to Goodwill, we came across the shark and tried it on Scout. She made such a pretty little shark that I couldn't resist. The only thing I had to purchase to complete the outfit was a white turtleneck and white tights from Target. Total cost = $7.00.

Once Scout was finished, we went to work on Catcher. We're still working on it. At first he wanted to be a shark, too, but now he wants to be the fisherman that caught Scout the shark. What does a shark catcher (pun intended) wear? Maybe I can convince him to be the surfer that's trying to get away from Scout the shark...

While researching Halloween costumes I got sucked into a world of decoration suggestions and pumpkin carving fanatics. Yes. I have to admit that these people are more creative than I. But does anyone else think maybe they have too much time on their hands? Or maybe I have too much time on my hands because I'm just sitting here critiquing their work. All photos below from Stylelist Home.


market mornings

For the past month or so we've been spending our Saturday mornings at one of the Farmer's Markets in Austin. With the weather cooling down, the past two weekends have been ideal for a morning stroll. I wish I had the presence of mind to actually do some of my grocery shopping for the week, but with Catcher running around looking for popsicles--which I keep calling lollipops--and Scout bouncing out of the stroller  to the beat of the local musicians, making it through the aisles is a big enough chore.

Two weeks ago the weather was cool enough to bring my cowboy boots out of hiding from their box in the closet. Funny that the boots almost joined the Goodwill drop-off party in Charlotte before we moved. And then I remembered that we were going to Texas.

Although Catcher might argue that the popsicles are the best part of the trip, I've become quite fond of the two hippie dudes who plug in their guitars and entertain the morning crowd. Scout loves them, too...even though her style may be a little more Joan Jett than Grateful Dead.


the four

Tonight I'm too busy playing on my new iPhone to blog. No. I did not set up shop overnight outside of the Apple store to be one of the first with the new iPhone 4S--that's way too Star Wars freaky for my liking. But I did wait for the [regular] 4 price drop and pounce on that. I ordered it 10 days ago, and it arrived as scheduled this morning at 9:00am. I had my trusty iPhone 3G for three years, so this is super high tech to me...even if I can't talk-to-text and the phone can't read my thoughts before I think them. Or can it?



Back in my school days (of the elementary and middle variety) we used to have this thing called "SSR" or Sustained Silent Reading once or twice a month for 20 minutes or so. I was a big dork and looked forward to these days--especially when it interrupted my math class--and I thought about it today when the kids and I were leaving the Zilker Botanical Garden and I was craving some quiet time. On the drive home I told Catcher that when we got back to the apartment we were going to have quiet playtime. I told him he could play with his toys or look through his books, but I was going to sit on the sofa and read without interruptions for a little while. He and Scout decided that they wanted to read, too, and here is a look at their room after they had ransacked the "library:"

Although they made a mess, they both helped with clean-up and it kept them busy enough for me to get through a couple chapters of Jane Eyre. Besides, who can complain when your kids are playing with books? I even caught Catcher "reading" to Scout when I thought they were being a little too quiet in the bedroom--he was sitting beside her reciting one of the books that makes her laugh (and quack!).