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Best roast pumpkin seeds, sugar v carving pumpkins and more

Best roast pumpkin seeds, sugar v carving pumpkins and more

egg carton pumpkin

Pumpkin time is reaching a fever pitch. I thought I’d save you googling all the same things I did in the last three days.

This is the best recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds (it involves boiling and then roasting, I can attest it makes a huge difference).

Cooking with pumpkin? Find a sugar or pie pumpkin, don’t use a mammoth $4 jack o’ lantern one. Good discussion here about the differences.

I was feeling uninspired on my pumpkin carving this year, and found this site had the best pumpkin stencils. You have to pay, but they are by far the most user-friendly, and you can spend forever choosing which ones before you commit.

Someone made the best pumpkin-related finger food at our co-op’s Halloween party this year: peel a bunch of mandarins, tuck a small piece of celery in the top for a stem. Ta da! ‘Pumpkins’. Love it. Here’s a photo, including some brilliant ghost bananas too. Genius.

Not feeling like wrestling a pumpkin? Make one out of an egg carton.

Finally – looking for good pumpkin recipes? We love Cooking Light’s pumpkin muffins (I add chocolate chips, ahem), the Pioneer Woman’s pumpkin cinnamon rolls, and swapping the butternut squash for pumpkin in my pasta and cheese (recipe pending…sorry, I know, it will be up here as soon as it’s been published!). I use canned pumpkin puree all the time, because I have seen sugar pumpkins for sale about three times in my entire life.

 

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On Vancouver Mom: Family Guide to the Food Cart Fest

On Vancouver Mom: Family Guide to the Food Cart Fest

food cart fest 1

I love food carts. I’m not sure why I find them so terrific, but there’s something amazing about being handed something incredible down from a vehicle. Maybe it’s the standing outside part? The way four of them in a row in any given place creates an instant festive feeling? I don’t know, but I’m keen.

When the Food Cart Fest announced its new location literally down the road from me, I was one part excited, one part dismayed. Last year I was very anxious to check out the Fest, but it was quickly apparent it was not at all built for families. Which is, you know, fine. I’m a-okay with not everything catering to my particular life-stage. But it seemed like they missed a trick, surely it would make sense to make it a bit more family friendly. This year, it was advertised as such, but after talking to friends and neighbours who had been, it seemed a little perfunctory. I’m happy they tried, and I have high hopes for next year. We collected advice and headed down there, and had a surprisingly good time. So I decided to pass on the collected wisdom in a Family Guide to the Food Cart Fest over on VancouverMom.ca. Enjoy and eat lots of food.

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On Treehouse: Egg Carton Flowers

On Treehouse: Egg Carton Flowers

TH forever egg carton flowers

 

I’m over on Treehouse Parents with this simple egg carton flower craft project. I like this one because you can get as involved as you want – use pens for colouring if you’re not in the mood for getting paints out, cut out the egg cups ahead of time and you’re good to go. Elliot is not always all that keen on craft projects, but he liked this one. I think the fact that egg carton cups look like flowers right away helped.

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We have beehives on the roof!

We have beehives on the roof!

bees

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you probably have heard about the bees. I can’t stop talking about them, because I have been fascinated with the idea of keeping bees for ages.

When I worked at the arts centre in London, we had a hive on the roof of the concert hall. Hilariously named the Royal Festival Hive, it was also in the shape of the Festival Hall, and looked after at least partially by one of the guys from Saint Etienne. These crazy mashups are why I particularly miss working there. Anyway, we had artists in residence come up and sing to them, our poet in residence Lemn Sissay recited poetry for them – they were very cultured bees. Occasionally we hooked up microphones to the hive and ran cables down to the ground so people could hear the hive. The hive-keepers even had the National Poetry Library (located inside the Hall) look up bees in poetry. Apparently Sylvia Plath’s father was a beekeeper and she wrote quite a few bee poems herself. My favourite was a trio of singers who performed a selection of bee-related music, including a traditional English round first written in 1260.

We even had a party, and our one of our on-site bars made honey cocktails. It was a long night, I remember that much.

When the possibility arose that we could have a hive in our communal roof garden here at our co-op, I was beyond excited. Thankfully everyone else was keen, and from there things moved quickly. Late one evening last week, I helped Sarah from Hives for Humanity carry one of our hives up to the roof. The bees were so quiet, I couldn’t feel them at all.

The next morning, Elliot and I went up to put out the bees’ water dishes. I had no idea they need water dishes, but if you don’t put out somewhere suitable to drink, they will drown in fountains, or perch on the hosepipe scaring the landscapers. We used terra cotta plant saucers with different sized rocks in, as well as a few twigs for sitting on close to the water level. They seem to enjoy it, when I came out the same afternoon there were four or five on each one.

Our hives are sponsored by both Legacy Liquor, a lovely local neighbourhood shop, and Hives for Humanity. We will have the chance to watch the Chief Beekeeper from Hives for Humanity work on our hives, and hopefully learn a bit about beekeeping ourselves. After our first beekeeper visit, our bees have been pronounced happy and healthy. I admit, I sing to the bees when I bring them their water in the morning, in a bit of a homage to the old arts centre hive.

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On Treehouse: Nature Hunt!

On Treehouse: Nature Hunt!

On Treehouse: Nature Hunt

I’m happy to say I’ve started contributing articles to the new Treehouse Parents site. Yes, it’s the same Treehouse as the TV channel, Canadian home of one of my son’s favourites shows ever, the Octonauts. I’ll give you a nudge when I’ve got something new to share over there.

You can check out my first piece for them, an outdoor nature hunt. I came up with this idea because most of the other nature scavenger hunts I had seen around involved picking things. I don’t encourage picking plants unless we’re harvesting to eat or helping it grow. Besides, then I have to find a place for more rocks and sticks in house! I have enough trouble with rock collections without inviting more.

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