harvest fest

It’s the Monday after Halloween, and if you’re anything like us, the candy-induced stomach ache is still lingering, as is the depression over this dark-at-five-o’clock thing. [Although Jason for some reason loves riding his bike in the dark. Beats me.]

But all of this nonsense and exhaustion is overshadowed by the immensity of enduring fun from the weekend festivities. Because this weekend was more than our handful of trick or treaters or the mandatory viewing of Hocus Pocus. This weekend played host to one of our favorite gatherings of the year: Harvest Fest.

What is Harvest Fest, you ask? Well, it’s basically a group of girls gathering together for a bit of social crafting. We began the tradition last year and given the amazing food spread and beautiful wreath takeaways, we had a lot to live up to.

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So we scoured Pinterest and set out on a journey of mistakes, redemptions, and [as always] laughter. The end result, I think, is something we can be proud of.

First, we scared Jason out of the house and immediately gathered around the food. Because let’s be honest… food is always the centerpiece at any Frels party. Kate baked gingerbread and pumpkin bread and brought all of the fixings for our spiced apple cider beverages. Katelyn and Rachel brought the wine for mulled wine, as well as tons of chip-and-dip and peanut butter cookie treats. Lindsey, in all of her glory, came with an entire grocery bag full of veggies, pretzels, and snacks, and rounding it all out was Lauren, who contributed her easy yet insanely addictive brown sugar oatmeal cookies [a la the Pioneer Woman].

Thinking it would be a crisp Fall day [nope – it was definitely at least 70-degrees outside on November 1st], we opted for a warmer, more substantial option: our newly invented Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Next, came the crafts. After stuffing our faces, we started putting our hands to work on our indoor craft: Gourd Candle Holders. [I’ll be honest. I wasn’t sure if these were going to work, but dammit. We were going to try.]

We began with an assortment of gourds.

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Jason absolutely loved having these on the table all month…NOT.

To prep them, we soaked them in a combination of water and a few capfuls of bleach for about 20 minutes. This is supposed to help preserve them for longer. [Stay tuned on the efficacy of this Internet hack.]

Each gal then chose a gourd and a tea light. After tracing the tea light with a pen on the top of the gourd, we set out cutting a hole in the top with a small carving knife or pairing knife [much like carving a pumpkin], scooped out the innards, sprayed it with the water-bleach concoction leftover from the soaking, and placed our tea light inside. Et voila!

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We had our challenges, for sure. Some of the gourds definitely needed larger candles for the tea lights not to get lost in them. Other gourds were simply impossible to cut through. We were this close to busting out the Dremmel. Thank heavens it didn’t resort to that.

Gourd candles done, we then moved outside for our second project: Succulent Planting.

All it took was some tin cans [sourced from many weeks of beans and taco soups], some indoor succulents from the garden center [stumbled upon at Southwest Gardens on our bike ride to Costco], some soil, and some decor of your choice. We opted for burlap and twine: rustic and adorable.

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Our challenges with these were quickly thwarted. Burlap won’t stay on? Bust out the hot glue. Burlap too big for the can? Cut it. Such problem solvers, we are.

But for all of our crafting and eating and nice weather, nothing compares to the company these girls bring to the table. I’ve known most of these women for almost a decade, and despite not being close friends in college [heck, I was absolutely frightened of Kate 10 years ago], our shared history has served as a sort of glue that continues to bring us closer and closer together here in Colorado.

These are the women who are constantly teaching me what it means to be a woman: to be a wife, to laugh about dating, to have professional goals, to invest in good bras, to not judge another girl if she does or does not want to take her husband’s name, and, most importantly, to not pressure one another to have children for no other reason than it’s simply not the right time yet. [We know you’re all asking the question, so there’s your answer.]

I’ll be honest, we finished our crafts in about two hours and spent the final two just discussing our lives, giving our advice, and telling stories. It’s pretty obvious which two hours meant the most, but at least we have some mementos to remind us of our shared time together.

That’s really what Harvest Fest is about in our book.

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