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Corn mazes are a popular fall activity that is fun for the entire family and a great way for farms to create additional income from tourism. The point is to solve the maze by finding a route from the start to finish. Many have “activities” and “secret” coded clues on dead end routes setup inside the maze. There are usually bridges, overlooking the maze both for viewing and for those folks who are a bit lost and need a little help with directions. Corn mazes range from family-friendly with additional attractions like hay rides, petting zoos, pumpkin patches and play areas for children, to very scary, haunted-house-type corn mazes. The farms decide on themes, the designs start on graph paper and then are plotted over the fields before planting. Farms and orchards grow specialty corn that is taller than most and very dense. These temporary works of corn art are usually huge, up to 45 acres, and are harvested in November.   Here’s a small photo gallery of some unique corn mazes that we’ve seen over the past few years:

A 15-acre cornfield maze with over 4 miles of twists, turns and dead ends featuring a technology-theme with complex additives of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man,” from Treinen Farm near Lodi, Wisconsin.

Treinen-Farm-da-Vinci’s-“Vitruvian-Man”

Covering 12 acres,  David Archuleta’s likeness, along with the phrase “Archuleta 4 President,” was cut into the cornfield at the 2008 Cornbelly’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Fest located at Thanksgiving Point, Utah after finishing as the runner up in the  7th season of American Idol.

David Archuleta Corn Maze

Brown’s Farm Festival in Oxford, Florida has 10 acres of pure fun!!  They advertise 3 levels of difficulty and encourage you to try all 3.

browns-farm-festival-corn-maze-2012

 2012 corn maze theme at Server’s in Shakopee, Minnesota.

2012-corn-maze-theme-at-Severs-Corn-Maze-2012

NASA-themed corn maze at Cornbelly’s in Lehi, Utah. NASA explained that the theme highlighted the specific region’s contribution to NASA and featured space-related educational games and activities.

NASA-themed-corn-maze-at-Cornbellys-in-Lehi-Utah

Aerial photo of Alice in Wonderland and Cheshire cat corn maze in Hoosick Falls, NY.

Aerial-photo-of-Alice-in-Wonderland-and-Chesire-cat-corn-maze

Black Beard’s Revenge at Davis Farm in Sterling, MA.

Aerial-Corn-Maze-Black-Beards-Revenge

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Family Fall Fun

Family Fall Fun

Ten easy ideas for close-to-home activities that celebrate the outdoors and autumn.

Fall Scene

You don’t need to go to complicated lengths. Think close-by, casual, enjoyable. Think family fall fun.

Ten To-Dos this Fall

1. Take a hike.

Family Hiking

Wherever you live, nature is putting on a seasonal show. Sometimes sensational, sometimes subtle, there are changes afoot in the environment. Get out with binoculars and take the kids for a walk in a nearby park, or just an amble through the woods or open spaces on public property. Concentrate on all your senses and take in the changes that spell fall. If there’s a writer in your group, make a journal of your trip. Consider picking up seeds, pods, leaves, rocks, fossils, and any interesting (and safe) “found” objects for making into art projects later — whether it’s stringing a fall necklace or making a bouquet of fallen leaves.

2. Help with the harvest.

Fall Harvest

Fall is the season of bountiful harvest. So get your sweatshirt on and get out there and pick produce. Squash, pears, apples — picking whatever’s in season in your area and ready to be off the tree or vine is a blast. Lots of orchards and small farms let the public participate in their harvest. Is there a cider mill nearby? A trip to the apple orchard is a fall favorite. After picking and/or touring the orchard, you can usually sample cider for a true taste of fall. Take your bushel baskets home and get creative. Make a pie or fritters. Have your own fall party and bob for apples, or get out the double boiler and get gooey with caramel apples.

3. Find a fall festival.

Fall Festival

Though most pumpkin-patch merriment dies down after Halloween, there are all kinds of festivals going on in November. It’s a big month for outdoor arts-and-crafts shows in anticipation of Christmas, but the fall theme is still alive. Check the Juried Online Arts Festivals site or Festivals.com for lists of festivals. You can also key in “November festivals” on a search engine and see the interesting things — from reggae shows to chowder fests — that pop up around the country. Try narrowing your search to your area for something doable in a day trip.

5. Make a scarecrow.

Scare Crow

Where there are leaves on the ground, there are scarecrows to be made. Even if you don’t have any crows to scare away, you can have as much fun with raked leaves, old jeans, a flannel shirt, and straw hat as you can with fresh snow, carrot, coals, and stocking cap. Do it in your own back yard or at an accommodating park. If you’re unsure how to make a scarecrow, use your search engine to find information.

6. Go on a hayride.

Hayride

Even if the pumpkins have been trucked away from farms outside your city limits, you might still find hayrides in those fields. Whether you’re pulled by a tractor or a horse, it’s big autumn fun to sit on a hay bale as you go. When your bale mates are your kids, it’s an unforgettable experience.

7. Go fly a kite.

kite flying

Spring’s not the only time windy weather says, “Get out the kites.” With some colorful kites in the trunk and a good eye for a field without many trees and power lines to get tangled up in, you’re all set for an invigorating autumn day. Pack the video camera and reel out the string.

8. Hit the horse stables.

9. Take in an airshow.

Air Show

Watch the papers or call the nearest air base or aviation museum to find out when high-flyers might be in formation in the skies near you. With stunts and crispness in the air and your family in comfy lawn chairs on terra firma, you’ll all be flying high.

10. Pack a picnic.

Fall Picnic

Who says it has to be summer to open a picnic basket full of fried chicken, potato salad, and iced tea on a quilt in a scenic spot not too far from home? If there’s a chill in the air, trade the lemon- ade for Thermoses of hot chocolate. Throw in something pumpkin — bread or muffins are always a hit — to celebrate the season. Bundle up in sweatshirts and lie on your back watching clouds float across the autumn sky. What pictures do you and the kids see up there?

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I know it’s getting late for planning a Halloween Party but these fun games may be just what you’re looking for to make your party the perfect monster bash. Or, you can always get started early for next year’s party.  I know I want to start planning now.

Mummy Bowling

Mummy Bowling Pins

A new twist on an old favorite, this wide-eyed mummy bowling set will make youngsters howl.

Wizard Hat Ringtoss

Wizard Hat Ring Toss

Munchkins of all ages will love playing this game of skill at your next Halloween bash.

Beanbag Toss

Halloween Bean Bag toss

Kids love to play this party game, racking up points by tossing cat-, pumpkin-, and ghost-shaped felt beanbags into the openings in the pumpkin.

Jumpin’ Jack-o’-Lantern Pinata

Jumping Jack o Lantern

Made from a papier-mache-covered balloon, this pinata holds a pumpkin full of treats.

Playful Paddleballs

Spooky Playful Paddles

Young guests will enjoy playing with these painted Halloween favors.

Crystal Ball Bowl

Crystal Ball Bowl

Fortune-telling is all the more fun with this bowl of mystery at hand. Write several fortunes so each guest can take one home.

Spider Boxes

Spider Boxes

Use these printed spider boxes as fun dice shakers or to store small game pieces. To give them as a gift, tuck a piece or two of Halloween candy inside.

Ghostly Pinata

Ghostly Pinata

Make this ghost pinata the centerpiece of the party. Floating crepe paper streamers give it a ghostly presence.

Pin the Tail on the Cat

Pin The Tail on the Cat

This is no ordinary Halloween black cat. Our cool cat is jazzed up with orange, green, and purple polka dots.

Witch’s Ring Toss

Witch Ring Toss

Who will be brave enough to capture the starry, spooky witch’s hat? Line up the kids so they can try their hands at this bewitching version of the classic ring-toss game.

Twist-and-Turn Game

Twist and Turn Game

With plenty of twists, turns, and tangles in store, kids will delight in a close-up look at the stars, spiders, jack-o’-lanterns, and ghosts lined up on this themed Twist-and-Turn game board.

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Spirit Jugs

spirit jugs

Stationed on a walkway or porch, these homemade lanterns will extend a ghostly greeting and good-bye to all your holiday visitors.

CRAFT MATERIALS:
Clean plastic gallon milk jugs
Black permanent marker
Craft knife
String of 50 clear low-wattage holiday lights
Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. Draw ghost eyes and mouths on the jugs. Tip: Leave the caps on while you do this, so the jugs don’t dent.
2. Use the craft knife to cut a half-dollar-size hole in the back of each jug (a parent’s job).
3. Arrange the ghosts near each other and string the lights between them, stuffing several bulbs into each of the jugs.

Tabletop Haunts

tabletop haunt

Filled with restless and hungry spirits, this spooky abode makes a great centerpiece for a Halloween party buffet table.

CRAFT MATERIALS:
Pencil and ruler
Square tissue box
2 rectangular tissue boxes (ours were about 5 by 9 inches)
2 (5- by 8 1/2-inch) pieces of thin cardboard
Craft knife
Scissors
Glue dots or double-sided tape
Paintbrush
Black and gray craft paint
Orange tissue paper or paper napkins
4 (3-inch) lengths of white pipe cleaner
4 (1-inch-wide) Styrofoam balls
White facial tissue, cut into 4 (4-inch) squares
Black permanent marker
Time needed: About 2 to 3 Hours

Step 1 - Tabletop Haunt 1. Draw windows, a door, and a front-porch overhang (a 1 1/4-inch strip that folds out from the floor of the second story) on the tissue boxes. Draw 2 roof pieces on the thin cardboard, as shown.
Step 2 - Tabletop Haunt 2. With a craft knife, cut the openings in the boxes, leaving one side of each door attached and saving the window cutouts for shutters (for a swinging shutter, leave one side attached). Then cut out the roof pieces with scissors, fold them in half, and assemble them one on top of the other. Attach the roof to the square tissue box with glue dots or double-sided tape.
3. Paint the boxes and shutters. Once they’re dry, stuff the boxes with orange tissue paper or napkins and then glue or tape them together. Glue the shutters in place.
4. Now conjure up some ghosts. Push one end of a pipe cleaner into each foam ball and glue or tape the white tissue squares to the balls. Pinch the tissue around each ghost’s neck and draw on eyes. Glue or tape the ghosts to the house by their pipe cleaners.

Origami Bats

origami bats
 

Haunt your halls with a colony of these denizens of the dark. They can just hang around, or they can take wing as a bat mobile — tape several to pieces of monofilament and string them from a small branch.

CRAFT MATERIALS:
Black paper (construction or scrapbook paper works best) cut into 8- by 8-inch squares
Scissors
Glow-in-the-dark paint
Time needed: About 1 Hour

Step 1 - Origami Bats 1. Fold an 8- by 8-inch square of black paper into a triangle.
Step 2 - Origami Bats 2. Fold down the top 2 inches of the triangle.
Step 3 - Origami Bats 3. Fold each side flap in along the inner lines shown here, then back out along the outer lines, to form dimensional wings.
Step 4 - Origami Bats 4. To create ears, use scissors to cut a notch along the top, between the wings.
Step 5 - Origami Bats 5. Flip the bat over and add eyes with glow-in-the-dark paint. To give the body dimension, make a vertical crease down the center.
Amazing Bat Facts

  • Bats account for around a quarter of all mammal species.
  • As mammals, bats nurse their babies.
  • Thailand’s bumblebee bat, weighing less than a penny, is the world’s smallest mammal.
  • Some flying-fox bats of the Tropics have wingspans of up to 6 feet!
  • Hundreds of plant species rely on bats to pollinate them.
  • Like cats, bats spend lots of time grooming their fur.
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    Halloween has always been a fun time at our house. Now that our kids are grown we enjoy calling the grandkids and asking what they want to be for Halloween. We love hearing their excitement and seeing pictures of the final creation. Here are a few costume ideas I found on the web for your special goblin.

    Blue Butterfly
    Blue Butterfly costume

     Cave Kid

    Cave Kid

    Bob the Builder Wanna Be

    Bob the Builder wanna be

    A Good Egg

    Good Egg

    Big Bad Wolf
    Wolf Costume

    I Love Mummy

    I love Mummy

    Retro Robot

    Retro Robot

    50’s Waitress

    50’s Waitress

    Ice Cream Cone

    Ice cream cone

    For these and other great costumes visit: www.familyfun.com They have directions on how to make these costumes, and many others. Trick or Treat

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    I’m one of those transplanted city girls that moved to the country, and I didn’t grow up learning how to can food. This past week my husband Jerry and I canned our first batch of pear butter. We had fun working side by side, picking, peeling, parring, cooking and canning. What a fun thing to do as a family.

    We have two Keifer pear trees in our front yard that are overflowing with pears this year. There are so many pears that many of the branches have broken off. Keifer pears are hard as a rock and I didn’t know what to do with them. We’ve been picking them and giving them to the 10 horses that are on our property.

    We decided to offer pears to as many people as possible. We announced at church that we had tons of Keifer pears if anyone needed any. We were surprised at the response. Several families at church said they made pear pie and pear butter and would love to have some pears.

    Each Saturday my husband would pick several boxes of pears to bring to church on Sunday. We gave away tons of pears and our trees are still full. One older couple invited us over to help them can pear butter so we could learn for ourselves. It was so much fun.

    This week my husband and I canned 7 pints of pear butter. 3 made with Splenda and 4 made with sugar. Hmmmm it is so good! I’d like to share our receipe with you. It was given to us by this sweet couple that taught us how to can the pears.

    Pear Butter

    Pear Butter

    8 cups of chopped pears (ground)

    4 cups of sugar or Splenda

    1 tsp of cinnamon

    1/4 tsp of ground cloves

    Combine and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring frequently. Skim off foam and pour into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

    Makes about 3 pints…..Enjoy!

    Keifer Pear

    Keifer Pear
    Kiefer pear fruit and foliage (from Hedrich, 1921, Pears of New York).
    This is a hybrid pear – probably a cross between the Chinese sand pear and
    Bartlett – that was named in 1876 by Peter Kieffer. Although its internal
    quality is inferior to European pears such as Bartlett, Anjou, and Bosc, it
    was grown extensively in the USA in the first part of the 1900’s. As a tree it
    is resistant to fireblight – a major disease of European pears grown in humid
    regions.

    Pear Flowers

    Pear Flower
    Pear flowers. The mixed flower buds of pear produce multiple flowers and
    leaves from each bud.

    Bartlett Pear

    Bartlett Pear

    Bartlett pear fruit and foliage (from Hedrich, 1921, Pears of New York).
    This variety was originally named as ‘William’ in England in 1770. It has been the
    major pear variety in the USA for over 80 years. At present it accounts for about
    75% of US production. Much of the production is canned.

    Anjou Pear

    Anjou Pear

    Anjou pear fruit and foliage (from Hedrich, 1921, Pears of New York).
    This is an old French variety, originally called Beurre’ d’ Anjou. It has been an
    important winter pear in the USA since the beginning of the 1900’s. It ripens
    after Bartlett and stores up to 180 days. It accounts for about 16% of US pear
    production.

    Bosc Pear

    Bosc Pear
    Bosc pear fruit and foliage (from Hedrich, 1921, Pears of New York).
    This pear originated from Belgium (1807) as ‘Calebosse Bosc’ which was later
    changed to ‘Beurre’ Bosc’. This Winter pear ripens after Bartlett and has
    russetted skin and a long pyriform shape.

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    Family Games are Fun!!!!

    Monday’s are Family Ties day so I wanted to share a fun idea with you. When my family gets together we love to play board games.

     We’re lucky no one has complained about the noise because things get pretty loud and crazy. It’s tons of fun to have the family over and bond together, or have hand to hand combat, sometimes both.

    Board Games

    Plan a Family Game Night

    What is Family Game Night?

    If you’re looking for some family party games, here’s an excellent idea. Mix together kids and parents, take the phone off the hook, turn off the TV, bring out a board game and what do you have? An evening of fun, learning and laughter that brings all of you closer together. Sound good? Then maybe you should be planning your own Family Game Night.

    Family Game Night is a way to spend quality time together and create a family tradition that you and your kids will remember and cherish for years to come. Here’s a fun recipe on how to maximize the time you have together:

    1. Mark your calendar one night each week to spend uninterrupted time with your kids.
    2. Eat dinner together, clear the dinner dishes, and clean off the table.
    3. Resist falling into the same routine and get your family excited by pulling out your family’s favorite board game.
    4. Put a bowl of snacks on the table.
    5. Let the games begin with these tips:

    What will Family Game Night do for us?

    Good question. It will:

  • Give you quality fun time with your children
  • Give you an opportunity to share a laugh together
  • Help you foster a positive family-child relationship
  • What will it do for the kids?

    Social Interaction:
    Gameplay allows your kids to learn from you and from each other. It encourages a sense of connectedness and respect among family members.

    Learning:
    Games are a learning tool. For instance, Clue is good for learning deductive reasoning. Scrabble is ideal for teaching math and spelling skills. Throw ‘N Go Jenga is perfect for teaching hand-eye coordination.

    Life Skills:
    Games teach kids important life skills such as patience, concentration, teamwork and perseverance.

    Everybody wins when the family plays a game together.

    How do I get a Family Game Night started?

    Family Game Night can be as simple or as detailed as you and your children would like it to be.

    Before you plan your Family Game Night, here are some things to think about:

  • Decide which night of the week will work best for your family
  • You may want to include some friends and neighbors
  • Select your family’s favorite games
  • Create a fun way to mark the calendar each week so that everyone will know when the next Family Game Night is!
  • Fun ideas from Hasbro

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