Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Fest

Even though it doesn't really feel like it here in Southern California, it's officially FALL!! I love fall!  I love the colors, the flavors, the feel; pretty much I love everything about it!  I really do think its my favorite time of year.

With the girls at the Pumpkin Patch!

In honor of it being fall a few other Marine wives and I decided to have a pumpkin filled weekend, also known as "Pumpkin Fest" (we came up with this term all on our own, haha).  To kick off Pumpkin Fest, the girls and I went to Bates Nut Farm to go pumpkin picking. We kept hearing that this was THE place to go in Southern California.  It was a bit of a drive, but there were pumpkins a plenty and it was totally worth it.  I definitely got the "pumpkin patch" experience, which I haven't done since field trips in elementary school I think.  You name it and they had it: ghost pumpkins, Cinderella pumpkins, Big Mac pumpkins, Jack O' Lantern pumpkins, tiger pumpkins. Who knew there were so many varieties of pumpkins? Not this girl! I ended up getting a Jack O' Lantern pumpkin and a few little baby pumpkins to put around the house.

Big Mac Pumpkins (these probably weighed at least 40 pounds each)

Cinderella Pumpkins
After the pumpkins were picked we explored Bates Nut Farm and loaded up on some candy and homemade fudge!  We also packed a picnic lunch which we enjoyed underneath the mulberry trees.  Ok, I really have no idea what a mulberry tree is but I was told they were mulberry trees.  It was such a fun day!! Kind of made me wish I had a few little munchkins (aka kids) with me.  For some reason the holidays are a little more fun when you enjoy them with little kids.  I think its because they get so excited about it all and get so into it.  There were little kids all dressed up in their costumes hunting for the perfect pumpkin with Mom and Dad; it was so adorable.

Our wheelbarrow before
Wheelbarrow after full of pumpkins.  Success at the pumpkin patch!
The next day "Pumpkin Fest" was officially celebrated.  We pretty much made this little celebration up.  It consisted of the four of us getting together to carve pumpkins and cook a feast of all "pumpkin" flavored food.  We made a homemade pumpkin pie (with homemade crust too!), pumpkin risotto and toasted the pumpkin seeds from our pumpkins.

So I have discovered that I am the world's WORST pumpkin carver.  I have so little patience for it and very very little artistic carving ability.  I do have to say that I carved the eyes of the pumpkin myself.  But after that I gave up (sorry Pop, I know "Sullivans never give up").  Maria (the world's BEST master pumpkin carver), saved my poor little Jack O' Lantern and gave him a mouth and a nose.  Thank goodness!  So for future, I now know that Josh will be carving pumpkins with our kids and I will be in the kitchen toasting the seeds and baking some homemade pumpkin pie.  Josh, I hope you are ok with pumpkin carving duty :).

Pumpkin risotto (loaded with bacon).  I swear its not Mac N Cheese

Our pumpkin filled menu was DELICIOUS!  The pumpkin risotto was phenomenal.  Although it did look a lot like Mac N Cheese, I promise it tasted nothing like it.  In all honesty, it tasted a lot more like bacon than pumpkin because of all the bacon/bacon grease (thank you Maria!).  But hey, I'll take bacon flavor any day; yum!

The pie was great too, although there was a lot of work and time that goes into it.  From the homemade dough (mixing it, kneading it, letting it cool, rolling it out), to the filling, and the baking, it was a pretty long process.  I really admire people who make entire pies/cakes/any baked goods entirely from scratch.  I mean its just so easy and tempting to buy the mix or the premade dough right from the store.  Even though I feel like I'm totally cheating and Giada would probably disapprove, I'm all about box cake/premade stuff occasionally.  Unless you are a professional cook/baker you really don't have the time to do all that all the time. 

Pumpkin fest was a great success, so much so that we decided to tackle Thanksgiving together.  We're going to do it a little early since most of us will be gone for Thanksgiving, but stay tuned for our Thanksgiving fest... or feast I should say!

On a side note, I need to give a little shout out/thank you to the Marine wives I've met through this deployment.  Maria, Melissa, Courtney and Lindsay (who is in Nebraska for a little but will be headed back our way soon), you girls are so amazing!  It is so comforting to share a common thread with people.  All of our husbands are deployed together and we totally get each other.  We can vent, talk about our sad days and our happy days and it feels so comfortable and like such a relief sometimes.  I don't know how I would get through these 8 months without them.  Having them has made me a firm believer in "support groups".  Whether its a common illness or struggle you are dealing with or hardship you've faced, I think having a group of people who are going through similar situations is such an important thing to have.  It gives you the strength to get through those tough days and it gives you a safe place where you can express your fears and open your heart.  Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: military wives are so strong and so inspiring!  Especially the women I have met who have kids, or who are taking care of ailing parents while their husbands are away; you really give me strength!  So thank you to all the military wives I've met for making those hard lonely nights a little easier.  Here's to all of you; may these next 8 months FLY by and even during those SLOW weeks & months we'll all get through it together. :)

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