By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Fun with the Family with Julie Lavender: Make autumn awesome with these holidays
Julie Lavender web
Julie Lavender - photo by Special

    Several weeks ago, Mother Nature teased us with a cool snap, making us believe fall had arrived early this year.
    Well, we should’ve known better — warmer weather returned. Then, with a snap of the fingers, it was slightly cooler again. Yep. It’s a typical fall in the South.
    But one thing we know for sure is that sometime during the month of October, even if it’s only for a few short days, the calendar and the weather will actually behave like a true autumn. Whatever the weather this month, make sure to create awesome autumn memories with fun celebrations and festivities. Celebrate the ones stamped on every calendar, but add some of the zany ones below for much family merriment.
    National Pasta Month — On one of the cooler evenings this month, whip up a dish of buffalo chicken pasta to spice up the evening and warm the tummies. Cook one 16-ounce package of pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and cook one pound of diced chicken until no pink is left — about five minutes. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, seasoning salt and garlic powder. Add two tablespoons of hot sauce and cook for another minute.
    In another bowl, stir together one cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of ranch dressing and 3/4 cup of milk. Stir in one cup of grated cheddar cheese. Add the sauce to the skillet with the chicken and stir well. Pour the sauce over the drained, cooked pasta and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
    National Pickled Pepper Week — Add some pickled banana peppers to a salad or sandwich. Between bites of peppers, take turns saying this tongue twister: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” After successfully mastering this tongue twister, pick a particularly popular alphabet letter and create your own tongue twister poem. You might choose to work together or pair off to create poems as a team and challenge other family members to spout off the tongue twister as quickly as possible.
    Wildlife Week — Take several family walks throughout the month. Travel together at different times of the day and on days with varying temperatures. Keep a log that contains every wildlife sighting. Look high and low, in treetops, under bushes and logs. To culminate this wild celebration, take a trip to the Raptor Center on GSU’s campus or take a drive to a zoo or aquarium nearby. Find a new critter to learn more about when you return and check out books from the library to glean interesting facts about it.
    Pumpkin Day — For a fun pumpkin craft, purchase a package of orange tissue paper from the gift wrap section of a department store. Place a roll of toilet paper in the center of one piece of tissue paper. Gather the tissue paper and carefully cover the roll of toilet paper, tucking the ends into the hole at the top of the toilet paper cardboard tube. Cut strips of green construction paper and roll each strip of the paper scroll-like to curl it. Tuck the unrolled end of several strips of paper into the cardboard tube hole.
    Dictionary Day — Use one die for this challenging word game. Each person takes a turn rolling one die. Using the number of dots on the upturned face, the player who rolled must come up with a word with that many letters in an allotted amount of time. (You can have someone watch a stopwatch or use a sandglass from a board game.) To make the game more challenging, choose a theme for each round, like “Halloween words,” “fair words,” “fall words” or “things that are orange.” A word spelled correctly according to the dictionary and in the allotted amount of time gives that player one point. Count the points at the end of the game to determine the "Dictionary Dominator."
    Look for signs of autumn throughout the month and enjoy the splendid colors, sights and smells that accompany the season. Bake pumpkin pies, eat apples dipped in caramel, take a ride on the ferris wheel, wave to someone in the parade, stock up on treats to hand out, visit one of the many fall festivals at a local church, create a unique costume, cheer for a football team, watch the trees don their autumn attire and use every minute available this month to make it the most incredible October your family has ever celebrated.

    Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter