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Month: October, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday, we carved our pumpkin. And by WE carved, I mean the kids hovered around me for about 5 minutes, before deciding the entire process was wholly boring, and I proceeded to carve alone for the remaining two hours. Sunny, as in years’ past, refused to even touch the pumpkin innards while Courtland DELIGHTED in the ooey gooey awesome that is gutting a pumpkin. The process looked a little something like this.

First there was great hugging of the pumpkins. Perhaps this explains her refusal to “gut” the pumpkin. She loved it too dearly to inflict disembowelment? Question mark?

Then James did the dramatic honors of removing the top of the pumpkin. Imagine the *Eee Eee Eee* “stab” sound effect as you gaze at this image.

Then Kaki and I gutted. Sunny looked on with clean hands.

We saved the seeds for roasting. For me, this is why I commit to carving every year, for the fresh roasted pumpkin seeds. Totally worth spending an afternoon covered in pumpkin juice.

The girls got bored. Quickly. And abandoned Mama on the porch.

I attached my stencil to the pumpkin. To “sketch” the design I used a push pin to mark the lines of the drawing and then used those teeny tiny carving tools to remove the negative space.

Once carved, I rinsed the seeds, dried ’em, laid ’em out on a pan, covered them in olive oil and salt and roasted them for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees F (tossing once to keep the toasting even). Sunny and I enjoyed these as a snack while watching “Mirror Mirror” together that evening.

Once dark, James did the honors of capturing our pumpkin illuminated on the porch. Sadly, since we live in rural Vermont at the end of a dead end dirt road, we’ll have no Trick or Treaters to welcome tonight. But the pumpkin feels friendly despite this reality, no? To make up for our barren surroundings, we’ll bring the kids into town and go Trick or Treating with some friends in a more bustling neighborhood. Happy Halloween to all!

Currently Watching

This is insane(ly cool). The amount of Xanax I’d need to execute something like this would be dangerous. Props to those with such patience, commitment and creativity!

The Wolf

Is she not the most terrifying wolf you’ve ever seen? No? The cutest and snuggliest? Yes? That’s more like it! I seriously could gobble her whole in this outfit, much like the character she’s playing did with dear Grandma. The fact that she’s dressing up as The Wolf to Sunny’s Little Red Riding Hood feels like an accurate descriptor of their sisterly relationship. Even though Sunny is two years older than Kaki, Kaki could (and does) kick her butt. She’s one tough cookie.

I made this felt Wolf mask inspired by these beauties over at Minikin, but realized very quickly that Courtland was going to wear it for all of 2.5 seconds before tearing it off her face and consuming it for her afternoon snack. So in the name of practicality and comfort (and avoiding having my child method act to get into character), I ordered this wolf hoodie from Etsy. Boom! Cozy wolf achieved!

I seriously could cuddle her to pieces. Those oversized felt ears? Why the better to hear you with my dear! Below are some ideas to pull off a comparable kid’s wolf costume.

Shop ’em:  1. Rib-Knit Henleys by Old Navy; 2. Active Cotton Fleece Pants by Osh Kosh B’Gosh; 3. New Balance Kids Sneakers from Zappos; 4. Kids Wolf Carnival Costume by BHB Kidstyle; 5. Crayon Face Paint Stick from Amazon

Little Red Riding Hood

Sunny’s entire Halloween costume centers around a red fleece cape gifted to her by my mother. Little Red Riding Hood was the obvious character for the holiday. The best thing about this costume is that we were able to pull together the entire look from her existing wardrobe.

Sadly, due to Sandy, Addison’s preschool had to cancel their annual Halloween parade scheduled for yesterday morning. Knowing that the holiday might be a tad disrupted by inclement weather, we dressed up this weekend and snapped some pictures in the woods across the street from our house. Just like the storybook intended.

Boy, she sure did look the part. And she delighted in selecting “food” from her play kitchen to take to Grandma’s House. Plush eggplant? Naturally.

I even learned how to execute the crown braid as it somehow seemed appropriate for the role. Also, I’m not going to pretend like the 13 year old girl in me doesn’t delight in styling Sunny’s unbelievable head of hair. Mama = jealous.

Tomorrow we’ll unveil Courtland’s wolf. More adorable than ferocious, but all the better to snuggle with, my dears! And here’s how you can get Sunny’s look!

Shop ’em:  1. Red Fleece Cape with Hood from Pink Princess; 2. Blue Smocked Dress from Dottie Doolittle; 3. Picnic Basket by Melissa & Doug; 4. Girls Bloomers by Laina Line; 5. Fair Isle Bear Tights by GAP; 6. Emu Australia Wallaby Lo Girls Boots in Berry from Sneakers4U; Crown Braid thanks to this tutorial


We haven’t washed away. Our house is still standing. And the chickens haven’t blown off the farm. Good morning, SANDY!

Around the Farm // 13

This weekend, I hung with the kids and made the house super seasonally festive, while James worked like a Trojan scrapping, painting and readying the south side of our house for the winter. More pix of the man at work to come, but this is what my time with the girls looked like.

1. Courtland loves her pumpkins with a capital L.
2. I’ve gone mini pumpkin crazy. I’m particularly obsessed with the white pumpkins.
3. The porch became even more elaborately festive. Assuming we don’t wash away, I’ll document the full spread soon.
4. Halloween decor is out!
5. My Little Pumpkin kissing pumpkins.
6. The trees are looking mighty bare and the ground mighty blanketed.
7. A new Story People print gifted from James after his conference in Portland. Very appropriate for life with our girls.
8. Lazy sisters (or I should say, lazy Mama).
9. Watching Thomas The Tank Engine’s Halloween special, of course!
10. Prepping some Boeuf Bourguignon. My favorite. Our recipe is not nearly as elaborate as Julia’s. I’ll be sure to share in a future post.
11. Wolf Mask in process. Not that Kaki will even consider wearing it. Le sigh.
12. Oh hey, Chickens.
13. And broccoli (still going strong).
14. And googley-eyed Hanna blending in with our pumpkins.
15. And the lastest addition to the farm… The Magical Mystery Tour by Melita Westerlund
16. We have James’ grandparents to thank for this wonder. I am obsessed. No one is surprised.

Googley-Eyed Pumpkins // diy

We’re heading into the final weekend before Halloween. This is the first year that Sunny has been super super excited about the holiday. She keeps demanding that I take her to Halloween. And I keep explaining that Halloween is a day, not a place.

So we’ve been doing arts and crafts and planning our costumes to pass the time until the big event. I will do a post devoted to the kids costumes next week, but the decision was based solely on Addison’s love of a red fleece cape that my mother gave her. There were only so many options – any guesses? And Courtland has a coordinating character to go along with big sister.

In the meantime, they’re getting their glow-in-the-dark skeleton on.

Since I tackled this DIY while solo parenting, I wanted to keep mess and skill to a minimum. All we needed was some glue and some googley eyes, and BOOM! A creepy, googley-eyed pumpkin was made!

Glue (we used Mod Podge)

1. Paint pumpkin with glue.

2. Stick googley-eyes on pumpkin in the arrangement you desire.

3. Let dry.

Crazy easy, eh? These little guys are sure to give Trick-or-Treaters the heebie jeebies! It would be cool to do this project on a larger pumpkin and try completely coating the surface in eyes. Much like these Louboutin heels, but $1,590 less expensive.

And don’t forget to check out this round-up of DIYs of Halloweens’ past.

Make ’em: 1. Pumpkin Vases; 2. Lace Pumpkins; 3. Button Spiders; 4. Glitter Pumpkins ; 5. Yarn Spiderweb ; 6. Embroidered Pumpkins

Lisa & Seth

In an effort to expand my photography skills, I did this engagement shoot for a fellow Eph/Eph couple that is slated to be married in 2013. I thought I’d share my favorites from the morning with all of you. We had a wonderful time running all around snapping photographs at some of the couple’s favorite places on campus. What’s your favorite image? It’d be really helpful to know what’s resonating with you!

Also, I have a much better appreciation for how difficult and TIRING it is to be a photographer. I only took pictures for two hours, and I came home completely exhausted. Inspired. But exhausted. It’s not easy, friends. Not at all. A very important lesson indeed.

That being said, I still have so SO much to learn, so hey, if you’re willing to let me use your images publicly (like so) and are willing to risk working with a amateur and are located in (or near) the Berkshires, shoot me an email. Let me take your picture (for a stupidly inexpensive rate) and James can even compile it into one of his amazing slideshows (like so).


This portfolio is speaking to me in a big big way. I can’t even stand how gorgeously haunting these photographs are. Everything is better surrounded by water.

All images are shot underwater by Elena Kalis. More images from her portfolio here.


My Grampy, my mother’s father, passed away this week.

He was the last of my living grandparents. He died the way every human being dreams of dying. After a full and beautiful life, peacefully, in one’s sleep. Without suffering or sickness. Without tragedy or drama. But quietly, simply, tranquilly.

He was living with my uncle, with his youngest grandchildren in the house next door. He had grown weaker over the years, both physically and mentally. And while I was not surprised to receive the call from my mother, the world feels different today knowing that a generation of my family is gone. That today my mother must now exist in the world without either of her parents. I don’t care how old you are, or how old your parents are, that is a life-altering reality to confront.

I keep thinking about this trip my mother and I took to visit him in North Carolina a year after I graduated from college. It’s the house I remember from my childhood, where he and my Grammy lived out their retirement. My Grammy died too young (fuck cancer) at the start of my freshmen year of college. My Grampy continued to live in their home in Chapel Hill until his memory clouded and short term events got spottier and spottier and he made the move to Kansas to live with my uncle.

But this trip that my mom and I took to visit him was before all of that, and it is one of my fondest, happiest memories with my grandfather. It’s when I was introduced to manchego cheese and marcona almonds. It’s when I had the time and maturity to listen to him talk about his life as a diplomat and life during WWII. It’s when I learned the genius of a post-dinner cheese plate. It’s when I sorted through photos and magazines and notes and balls of yarn and old letters and costume jewelry and unfinished embroidery projects, and pieced together bits of my grandparents that I’d never had the opportunity to understand. That trip gave me a glimpse of my family’s history, of who I am and where I come from, and when I think of my Grampy today, that is what I will remember. Sitting by his side in his living room, NPR blaring around us, with ephemera from a lifetime of love and family at my feet.

That and him dancing like a total rock star at my wedding three years later.

Today I am grateful that my daughter, Sunny, has a father from Ohio named James to look up to, just as my mother, Sunny, had my Ohio raised Grampy, James Freeman.

Here’s to you, Gramps, with love always from your Asher-Dukes.