Deer, turkeys, apples, pumpkins and harvest time are signals Halloween is just around the corner. This year, I’m going to use craft paint to make faces on a couple of pumpkins to set outside for the trick or treaters. I don’t carve the pumpkins because after Halloween is over, I use them, so they do not go to waste. I cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and place the cut halves onto cookie sheets and bake them at 300 degrees until they are soft. Once these are cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides, run the pulp through a sieve and then bag the pulp and freeze it until it’s time to make a pie, cookies, cakes or another treat.

Why buy the canned stuff when you can have fresh? Personally, I like knowing what is in my food!

The seeds are also delicious. I wash them, removing the stringy membrane; I then drizzle a couple of spoons full of oil on a cookie sheet with sides and bake the seeds in the oven at 300 degrees. Stir the seeds frequently until they are a nice toasty brown, add a sprinkle of salt and now you have a tasty snack for the kiddos.

Most retailers rush to display fall merchandise at the beginning of August. You can find candy of all kinds in huge bags, masks, and costumes of all sorts and prices, most of which are expensive. If you have more than one or two youngsters, your budget can take a gouging.

Does anyone remember when kids made their costumes? If I had young ones in this economy, I would encourage them to come up with some ideas for home-made costumes. We used to make ours from the ‘old clothes’ box or bag in the closet.  If parents don’t have these things at home, they could take the kids to a thrift store, give them three or four dollars and let them create something for cheap. One young lady I know bought an old formal gown for two dollars. She cut the bottom off with a pair of scissors so she could walk without tripping, and safety-pinned on the sides to fit her.

The young ones can easily drape an old sheet over their head, cut out some eye-holes with a pair of scissors and voila – instant ghost costume. They use a rope or an old belt to tie the sheet around the middle and then cut it off at the bottom, so they don’t trip. Kids can also use markers to decorate their ‘costumes’ – it’s fun to see what all they draw on their sheets.

Our children always had simple get-ups because of the miles we traveled between neighbors, and getting in and out of a vehicle is can be hard when wearing anything very fancy. I am looking forward to this year to see what kinds of costumes the kids can dream up.

Pinterest is a great place to search for homemade costume ideas. Here are a few examples; click the image for full view:

Helpful hints for October

Yardstick to the Rescue

My aunt lives in a big old house and has lots of heavy wood upholstered furniture. She is no longer able to move the pieces by herself to clean behind them.

She discovered an easy way to wipe out the ‘dust bunnies’ without moving the furniture. She wraps a wet piece of cloth around a yardstick and secures it with a rubber band. She is still able to get down on her hands and knees to move the yardstick about and keeps more damp rags handy, so if there is more dust than usual, she just switches out the rags. (tip submitted by JP, WY)

Sugar Time for Tomatoes

We have a lot of tomatoes right now. The frost hit so we picked them all and wrapped the green ones in paper and set them in a cool place (they will last for several weeks this way). My dad liked sugar on his tomatoes but was getting too much on them. My put some sugar in a large salt shaker, and now Dad can lightly sprinkle his tomatoes. (tip submitted by RG, IA)

Rolling Pin Sock

My grandmother always had a white cover for her rolling pin that eventually wore out. We were trying to figure out another way besides cutting flannel and sewing it on to make a new cover. A friend came over with a baby outfit that had a stain on the top. We just cut the leg off of the sleeper and just slipped it over the rolling pin and stitched around the ends of the rolling pin to hold the cloth in place. Much faster and easier than trying to fit a flat piece of fabric around the rolling pin. (tip submitted by HB, MN)

Kid Quiet Time

Recently I observed the neatest thing at a church service and wanted to share. The family came in with several small children – the youngest was a pretty vocal toddler. Her mother reached into her bag and brought out a small colorful cloth bag filled with toys.  The child sat very quietly during the service, playing with her toys, not making any fuss.

I asked the mother after the service about the bag, and she said the only time the child gets that bag is when they go someplace where she has to be very quiet, and because they are ‘new’ to her they keep her fairly well distracted.  She said they need to add a few new things from time to time as she grows, but so far it works. (tip submitted by BT,  ID)

Scouring Pad Saver

My grandmother taught me to keep my soap-filled scouring pad in a dish with a teaspoon of baking soda in the bottom of it.  The scouring pad never gets rusty. Never figured out why, but it works!  (tip submitted by LD, MI)

Sliding Barrette Holder

My youngest daughter has long hair and uses barrettes to hold it out of her face while at school.  Every one we bought would eventually slide out of her hair – I can’t count how many she lost on the playground. A friend of mine told me to cut a kitchen sponge thinly and glue it to the barrette. (I used a serrated knife to slice the sponge.)

It works – no more lost and broken barrettes, and it took me around 10 minutes to fix it. (tip submitted by FR, NE)