Pumpkins, Hay Rides and Sunflower Fields

Every year, we go in search of the best local pumpkin patches. Two years ago we went to Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay and Webb Ranch in Portola Valley. Last year, we went to Moore’s Pumpkin Patch in Dublin.

This year, we trekked down to Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch in San Jose. Far…near Coyote Valley. It was perfect. Not too commercial, not too much traffic (although I started working at 6 am so I we could leave in the early afternoon on a weekday), pumpkins laid out beautifully, an interactive learning center, a mini-hay bale maze, giant orange chairs, a sunflower field and of course, rides! Namely, a train, a hay-ride, and a barrel train ride. And this doesn’t even include the petting zoo or pony rides, which are weekend-only attractions. Continue reading “Pumpkins, Hay Rides and Sunflower Fields”

Our Halloween Fruit Family

I’m pretty proud of my budget Halloween costumes this year. I made costumes for our whole family for less than ten dollars! Although Carter refused to wear his grapes, we did manage to pin one on him for the first twenty minutes of trick-or-treating, so I say it was a success!

Carter loved his first trick-or-treating adventure. He loved ringing doorbells. He loved all the decorations. He loved the candy. He loved practicing “trick-or-treat!” between houses, though he inevitably got too shy to say it every time. He loved inviting himself into peoples’ homes as soon as they opened their doors. He makes Halloween ten million times more fun.

We ventured down the street to check out the crazy that is two blocks from our apartment. I’m talking blocked roads, security guards, street hoards and lines-around-the-block crazy (we watched rather than waited in the lines). Pumpkin towers higher than homes, hologram ghosts, live theatrical performances and decorations like you’ve never seen crazy. A Marvel themed set up with kryptonite forests and comic book stands crazy. Famous Silicon Valley people giving away stuffed animals and movie-sized candy boxes crazy.

I’m pretty proud that even in that throng of over-the-top Halloween theatrics, lots of people stopped to take pictures of Andy’s grape costume!

The crazy decorations and theater scenes were mind-blowing and I’m glad we experienced them again this year. But, I realized I’m pretty old-fashioned. I liked going door-to-door on neighborhood streets, scoping out lit up homes and watching Carter run excitedly to their doors. I liked exchanging friendly pleasantries with neighbors. I liked sharing Halloween love with other trick-or-treaters on the sidewalk.

I think it’s the Minnesota girl in me. I grew up sprinting up and down the street with my brother and cousins, filling pillowcases full of candy. I grew up hoarding Halloween candy for an entire year. I wore the same costume every year for five straight years. There were probably lights and decorations, but I don’t remember them. I remember jumping into my uncle’s van to warm up and cover more distance when necessary. We didn’t miss houses. We got candy.

This year was the 25th anniversary of the Minnesota Halloween blizzard; it was the most intense snowfall in a 24 hour period. Ever. Three feet of snow doesn’t stop Minnesotans from doing anything. We trick-or-treated in three feet of snow. I was maybe four feet tall. My cousin Mike face-planted in the snow and his candy went flying everywhere. And we filled it back up by the end of the night. That was the the best Halloween ever.

That’s how I remember Halloween. That was better than all the expensive shows and fancy decorations. Me. My brother. My cousins. Having fun together.

Next year, we will skip the crowds and lines and trick-or-treat the old-fashioned way. Running up and down the street, speeding between homes, admiring creative costumes and getting bellyaches from laughter and candy.

Our most successful pumpkins so far! They survived until Halloween!


Two years ago, we bought a pumpkin at a grocery store and called it a day; Carter was a two-month old preemie burrito, and we were just happy we remembered Halloween. Last year, I was determined to make up for the lapse. I took Carter to a pumpkin patch at the beginning of October and we carved some bomb pumpkins.

They all rotted two weeks before Halloween.

So, I dutifully went back to buy more pumpkins, intending to carve again. Those sat untouched by our front door until June. (I know, I’m amazed they didn’t rot away too!)

This year, Carter and his best bud, Massi, went to not one, but two different pumpkin patches: Webb Ranch in Portola Valley and Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay.

Andy, Carter and I had the best morning carving pumpkins and eating chocolate chip pancakes. At Carter’s request, we ate at “Boogie’s table” which made the food taste even better!

This year, these pumpkins will be lit for Halloween!