autumn traditions


“He is indeed the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart.” – Washington Irving, Irving Sketck Book

imag2573.jpgOctober through the end of the year is the arrival of several family traditions in the making. We forage for mushrooms and hike the woods in the crisp air taking in the golden light of Autumn. We paint and carve pumpkins. We make some kind of sweet treat involving apples. We create our own greeting cards for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We celebrate mine and my husband’s birthdays with homemade fancy meals and store bought ice cream cake. We devise and create Halloween costumes.

This is my most beloved season. Not just for the cooler brisk air and turning of the leaves but for all the creative and festive energy it brings to our home. Today is Halloween. The official start to a good few months of merriment. We’ve been busy making merry and mischief for a couple weeks now and I’m reveling in it.

Here’s a look back at the last few years of Daughters Barrow’s Halloween fun.










worlds of color: book picks for the littles

Detail of two rainbows on a stormy day. drawing by my five-year-old daughter, May 2016

My oldest daughter is really into drawing rainbows right now. She seeks color in everything. Clothes must be bright and if it sparkles, it’s a bonus. The best flowers in her opinion are ones saturated in the colors of pink, yellow, or purple. Her drawings must contain a minimum of three colors but more is always better. And lately, the pages of her library finds must be filled with a riot of color.


Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Davide Cali and illustrated by Raphaëlle Barbanégre is a retooling of the classic fairy tale we all know.  An evil witch, a forest, and dwarfs. This time around there are a whole lot more dwarfs, seventy-seven.  They are willing to protect Snow White from the witch but there is a catch. Chores, chores and more chores! Things pile up fast with so many dwarfs to tend to. By the end, Snow White is left wondering if she was better off with the witch.


The pages are end to end with rainbow-ordered color. My daughter’s favorite part of the story is when Snow White contemplates life with seventy-seven dwarfs:

“Snow White could see right away that life with the dwarfs might be difficult. For starters, how was she going to learn all their names?—Rufus, Kerfuffle, Dudley, Popsicle, Poodle, Bacon, Kiki, Blorp….”

Well, you get the idea.

When I read this page I recite each and every name of the dwarf in an increasingly exasperated voice for full effect. Snow White’ face is equally exasperated by story’s end.


Our next pick, Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by Rafael López, is a book that swirls with color and inspiration. The book is about a young girl who loved to draw and paint. She fills her room with color but her world outside is dull and gray.  One day a muralist arrives and together the young girl and the artist paint the walls of her neighborhood and transform it into something beautiful.

Mira, the young girl reminds me so much of my own daughter. I will often catch my daughter in a quiet moment to herself with her blank piece of paper, markers, pencils and crayons creating.

“In the heart of a gray city, there lived a girl who loved to doodle, draw, color and paint. Every time she saw a blank piece of paper, Mira thought to herself, Hmm, maybe…And because of this, her room was filled with color and her heart was filled with joy.”


The fluidity of colors will inspire young artists. Maybe Something Beautiful is based on a true story of how Rafael López, the illustrator of the book, and his wife brought together a community in San Diego, California and transformed their mundane neighborhood into a bright, bold and beautiful place filled with large-scale murals.

Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs and Maybe Something Beautiful are full of vivid imagery that excite the reader’s imagination. The former offers a story with lots of chuckles from rainbow-colored, mischievous dwarfs and the latter encourages a young girl to turn her colorful dreams into a reality.

Now off to make my own rainbows with my daughter.


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