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Halloween & Thanksgiving

After our road trip to Chicago, things slowed down a little and we were able to relax and spend time together watching movies, playing games, and of course preparing for the holidays. Halloween was coming up and by the time we returned from Chicago, houses in the neighbourhood had been decorated with all sorts of Halloween and Fall decorations like skeletons, spiderwebs, and of course carved pumpkins. Having never carved a pumpkin before, we were lucky enough to find some nice ones at the local grocery store since the ones we picked in the apple orchard in Wisconsin didn't make it home with us. We ripped out all the seeds - and kept them for roasting later - and drew designs to carve around. We kept it simple, Mitch's being a traditional style, and mine having hearts for ours, and carved away using a little serated tool. Ellie the dog was not a fan of the pumpkins though, she was very wary of them! We stuck some tealight candles inside and put them on the porch, ready for Halloween. We also decorated a cookie house from a kit, but had a tough time with the icing!

On the day of Halloween, we were once again blessed with wonderful weather - although I was really hoping to see snow by now! - and walked down to the local town where the vendors of the shops along there set up tables and hand out candy to passers-by. I was lucky enough to grab a few myself, despite my lack of costume and my age! The town safety services like Police and Firefighters also come and set up activities like pumpkin bowling as well as letting kids have photos in their vehicles and trucks. We walked around and saw all the creative costumes and picked up some homemade lemonade before heading home.

Even a dog was dressed up!

By this time, Mitch had already set up his annual Christmas light display that includes several spotlights that light up the house, which he programmed to light up in a sequence of orange and purple to match the Halloween aesthetic. We sat out the front with a cauldron full of candy and waited for kids to come by. It took a while, but eventually there were many groups who came all dressed up to get their Halloween treats.

I've been noticing many differences in snacks and "candy" here (which we would refer to as either 'chocolate' or 'lollies' depending on the confection)

- Notably that so many of the chocolates are filled with caramel, and sorry America, but Cadbury is much better than Hershey's! I do love Reece's though!

- Chocolate also seems to be abundant in 'Fun Size' around Halloween, but any other time it seems harder to find single serves of chocolate.

- Potato chips are not colour coded as they commonly are in Australia. Generally blue packets are Original, pink is Salt & Vinegar, green is Chicken, and so on. America's brands are not as well organised, however milk is the opposite with the lids having colour coded meanings - half fat, full fat, skim, etc.

- Cheese seems a popular flavouring for anything savoury, where as cinnamon is popular for sweeter things

I'll do a definitive list at the end of the trip, but for now they're some of the main points I've noticed.

Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, we ventured out to a place called New Ulm which reminded me of Duloc from Shrek for how quiet and German inspired it was. We intended to get ice cream there, but apparently everything closes on a Wednesday and we were not aware of that fact, so instead we climbed up a hill to get a look at a big statue, however that was also closed, including their public bathrooms! We had to sneak over to a College to use theirs! It was fun seeing a little bit of an American college though. Among other charms like a suspiciously haunted looking building, the town had a large clock called a Glockenspiel, which I always associated with an instrument resembling a xylophone, but apparently also refers to a big chiming clock with figurines that dance around on the hour, but it seemed that we had also missed the opening of that too, so we headed home.

We also were able to meet up with Mitch's long time friend, Cody, who I also knew from Twitch and had become friends with since he started streaming. We went to a mall to see a store that had an entire ferris wheel inside of it. There were also very American sporting goods there which was fascinating to me. We were due to have dinner at a place called Brick and Bourbon, but in true Jacqueline and Mitch fashion, our luck was against us and the place would not host non VIP patrons that night, so we ventured to another place and ate there instead. It was great catching up properly with someone I've only really known on the internet, and I do hope to catch up with Cody again before I leave.

Halfway through November, Mitch and I went bowling together - he won every game - but that night I saw my first snow! He was streaming on Twitch at the time and went on a break to get a drink and came down to bring me to the back door to witness my first ever snowfall. It was so beautiful and fluffy but very cold. I was captivated, it seemed so magical and surreal to be touching snow. There was a decent amount of snowfall over the next couple of days, and I had just the outfit in mind to go for walks so I could feel the snow crunch beneath my shoes and throw snow in the air to spin underneath. I made a snow angel too, but unfortunately this wasn't the right snow to be able to make a snowman as it wasn't dense enough and very dry. It was the perfect time to put up our little Christmas tree, we had the fire blazing, snow outside, and Christmas music on and decorated our living space. (You can see videos of all my experiences in the snow on TikTok and YouTube)

Unfortunately by the time Thanksgiving came, the snow had melted from a slight heatwave (about 5-9°C) Mitch's brother, who I was meeting for the first time, had come to town for the feast. On the eve of Thanksgiving, I helped make an apple pie and Mitch's Mom prepared for the array of dishes that would be served the following day. We had a huge turkey, mashed potato, green bean casserole, ham, fried corn, cheesy cauliflower, two types of stuffing (which is vastly different to the stuffing I know!), sweet potato casserole with marshmallows!, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce. Everyone has their favourites, but mine was absolutely the sweet potato casserole. It sounds like a dessert, but actually went with the main and tasted amazing! I was not much of a fan of the stuffing though! At home we will have stuffing for Christmas, but is more a herbed bread crumb mixture shaped into a patty rather than large croutons with mixes of onions and other ingredients in a baking tray. After the feast we decorated the bigger tree for the main living area. I very much like the tradition of putting a tree up on Thanksgiving, it was a lovely way to end the day.

The following day we ventured out to have lunch at a Hibachi restaurant where they make food on a hot plate in front of where you sit. It was very fascinating watching the chef do all these tricks with the food and utensils, and I enjoyed the foods too! We visited the Largest Candy Store again on the way home and stocked up on sweets before they close for the season. Mitch's brother left a few days later, and it was on to preparing for Christmas.

Does your family do Thanksgiving? What kind of foods do you have?

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