Category Archives: Garden Stories

Mischief Makers: Breaking News!

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North Pole Gazette

Reported by Sparkly Sprinkles

December 25, 2021

After a turbulent year, Pixie Powder and Figgy Frost are happy for some downtime at the North Pole. But these two Mischief Makers are in for a real surprise. 

A source who is familiar with the matter told this reporter that Frost and Powder are going to head up a new task force in the Mischief Maker Program: The B.R.A.T.T. Correctional Crew! 

B.R.A.T.T., or, Big Rowdy Association of Tiny Tyrants is an old division of the North Pole that, due to a series of in-home kerfuffles, has recently come back into service. Frost and Powder’s mission: assemble a team to target Tiny Tyrants and whip them into shape.

And here they come just out of Santa’s office! While Frost’s smile seems a bit forced and Powder’s giggle a little nervous, Santa knows these Mischief Makers are up to the job. 

Where will they go next? 

This is a developing story. 

Mischief Makers Day 24: The Final Farewell?

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You put us through the wringer
Our nerves were taut and frayed
We almost gave up several times
Your challenge was well-played

Goodbye all you dear children
We enjoyed? your little tricks.
Although we won’t be back next year
You won’t be in a fix.

We’ll send you someone special.
A team who’s stern, but fun.
They know all about you
Your trickster days are done!

Mischief Makers Day 23: Shocking Secrets

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“Figgy, Pixie!” Lil panted. “Don’t do it!”

Nim and Lil came streaming through the kitchen with Glitter hot on their heels. 

Pixie and Figgy frowned. “What’s wrong?”

Nim and Glitter looked around the room while Lil caught her breath. They saw the snack laden kitchen table and stack of games set up, ready to be played. 

“Oh,” sighed Glitter. “Good.”

Nim laughed nervously. “Whew! We thought for sure you were set to go out with a bang.”

“Well,” said Figgy. “We were just discussing livening this game day up a bit with some sparklers and fireworks.”

“NO!” Glitter, Nim and Lil all yelled at once.

“Jeez you three,” laughed Pixie. “Figgy is just kidding. We were only arguing about which game we should add to the pile. Quirkle or Mancala. Any votes?”

The new arrivals sighed in relief. 

“What’s going on?” asked Figgy. For the first time, he noticed the worried expressions on Nim and Lil’s faces and the serious set to Glitter’s head. 

Nim and Lil looked at eachother, communicating with eyebrows and head nods. 

“Wow you guys,” said Glitter. “Not too subtle, are you?”

Nim sighed. “We overheard Santa and The Director talking about you both.”

Figgy gasped. “The Director?” 

Lil nodded.

“What am I missing?” asked Pixie. “Who is ‘The Director’?”

“Sorry, Pixie,” said Lil. “I forget you were originally under the Birthday Beagle Brigade. The Director is the Head of Operations at the North Pole.”

“I thought Santa was the COO?”

“He is…sort of,” said Glitter. 

When Pixie still looked blank, Figgy filled her in. 

“The Director is in charge of the entire North Pole. All programs and events…even Santa.”

“And,” added Nim. “When there are problems that can’t be solved by traditional means, The Director sends a crew in to help.” 

“What problems have we caused?” asked Figgy. “We had a really rough start this season, but we managed to straighten out the Malloys ok.”

“Yeah,” added Pixie. “They’re absolute angels compared to the beginning of the year.”

“Righhhht,” said Glitter. “But it’s not just them. The Director had to re-enstate B.R.A.T.T. this season due to other…overzealous charges.”

“But that’s not our fault!” said Figgy. 

“I know,” said Lil. “We’re not exactly sure what is going on. We just overheard Santa and The Director talking and we heard your names and words like ‘too many messes’ and ‘re-assignment’.”

“Just who is The Director and why does he have so much power!?” spluttered Pixie.

She,” said Lil. “And she has so much power because she keeps the North Pole running smoothly. Santa would be lost without her help.”

Pixie’s eyes widened as realization dawned. “Mrs. Claus? She’s The Director?” 

Nim nodded while Figgy spluttered. “B-but does that mean…we won’t be coming back here next season?”

Lil gulped. “I’m afraid it may be worse than that.”

“That’s right,” said Nim. “We think Santa is pulling you two from the program.”

Mischief Makers Day 22: Manic Minutes

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Figgy and Pixie waited patiently for Nim and Lil. They were supposed to have met them at Candy Cane Cafe so they could all fly to the house together. Glitter had showed up and told them that Nim and Lil would just meet them at the Malloy’s. 

“Where are they?” asked Pixie for the hundredth time. 

“Santa must have needed them for longer than I thought,” said Glitter with a frown. 

“We really need to start setting up the games,” said Figgy. “I don’t think we can wait any longer.”

“Too bad, they were so excited to help tonight,” said Pixie. 

Glitter gazed at the sky, hoping to see the pair zooming toward the house. “Well, let’s get moving.”

“How many solo cups do we need?” asked Figgy as he pulled sleeve after sleeve after sleeve out of the giant bag of supplies. 

“Twenty-one per kid,” said Pixie. 

“Ok, that’s 21 times 12…carry the one, add the 2…the square root of 56 is…”.

“Geez Figgy, it’s 252,” said Pixie with a shake of her head. 

“Right. I knew that.”

“What about the ping pong balls?” asked Glitter.

“10 per kid,” said Pixie. 

“120 ping pong balls comi–.” 

Bddddddmmmmm! 

“Oh no!”

Ping pong balls spilled out over the floor rolling here, there and everywhere. 

Pixie and Figgy couldn’t help laughing as they watched Glitter canter around trying to gather them all back together.

“You could help me, you know!”

“Oh but it is so much more fun to watch,” said Pixie. At the glare from Glitter, Pixie relented and flew over to help collect them. 

“I’ll get the dice ready while Glitter plays ping-pong,” said Figgy. “How many do we need again?”

“Six per—72 Figgy. We need 72.”

“And 12 pairs of chopsticks!” Glitter shouted from the basement.

All three minute-to-win-it games were set up and still Nim and Lil were not at the house. 

“What did you say Santa needed to talk to them about, Glitter?” asked Figgy. 

When Glitter didn’t answer, Pixie prodded. “Glitter, tell us what you know.”

Glitter, who always seemed to be on top of all the North Pole news, didn’t answer at first. 

“Glitter?” Figgy folded his arms.

Turning to face Figgy and Pixie she admitted. “This time…I honestly have no idea. 

Mischief Makers Day 21: Clown Craze

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“Where in the North Pole is Pixie?” Figgy paced in front of Santa’s Workshop. “It’s getting early and we won’t have time for the balloon wall if she doesn’t get here soon!”

Lil looked up at the clocktower. “She’ll be here soon. She wanted to stop by Holiday Hair for a quick trim.”

“She wears a hat all the time, what does she need a trim for?? And why now of all times!?” 

Frantically, Figgy flew to Holiday Hair where he found a purple-haired Pixie smiling wide with sparkling eyes. “Well, what do you think?”

“Er…,” said Nim.

“Well…,” said Lil.

“What the holly happened to you, Pixie?” Figgy exclaimed.

“So…you don’t like my hair?”

“Your hair color is fine, but…well, look for yourself.”

Pixie peeked in the mirror and gasped. Her hair was a gorgeous violet shade, but the style was…big and circus-y.

Nim suspiciously fell into a coughing fit while Lil looked at Pixie sympathetically.

“It’s ok Pixie, it’ll grow back and settle down and–”.

“I LOVE IT!” shouted Pixie, twirling in the air. “It’s so…puffy! And FUN!”

“Come on, Pixie,” said Figgy, shaking his head. “Let’s get to the ring—I mean the Malloy house.” 

“Wait!” said Lil as the two started to take off. “I have an idea to go along with your balloons and Pixie’s new…style. You guys go ahead and get started, Nim and I will be along shortly with the rest.” 

* * *

Figgy and Pixie had been putting up the last of the balloons on the balloon wall when Nim and Lil showed up. 

“Great job with the balloons you guys!” Lil zipped through the window with Nim close on her heels carrying a bag of supplies.

“What’s in the bag, Nim?” asked Figgy.  

“Oh, just a few supplies.”

Nim and Lil reached into the overflowing bag and pulled out four clown costumes.

“No way,” said Figgy, already knowing what they were planning.

“But it’s the perfect complement to your balloon wall!” said Lil.

“How are clown costumes the perfect comp–oh.”

Nim, in the manner of a game show host, flourished supplies for making balloon animals. 

“Wonderful idea you two!” Pixie grabbed a nose and some shoes…she already had the hair covered.   

Figgy, resistant to the idea of dressing up like a clown, had to be gently persuaded to participate. 

“It’s alright Figgy, you’ll get used to the wig,” said Pixie.

“And the nose,” added Lil. 

“And the shoes,” said Nim. 

Grumbles were their only response. 

Bring in the clowns
Hang upside down
Dance ‘round the tree with me
Figgy don’t frown
Bring in the clowns!

Mischief Makers Day 20: Cat Ca-Choo!

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“Ouch! Get off my toe, Figgy!”

“I wouldn’t be on your toe if I could get through the window!”

Figgy and Pixie stood on the ledge outside the kitchen window, struggling to get inside. They’d flown back early to make amends for missing a night of mischief only to find their usual entry locked. 

“I guess we’ll have to use the cat door in the garage,” said Pixie.

Figgy froze. He was not a big fan of cats. Not only was he allergic, he had also had a terrible experience last season with Joe and Jake’s cats

Pixie noticed Figgy’s terrified expression. “It’ll be fine, Figgy. We haven’t seen any signs they still have a cat. I’m sure the door is old.”

Reluctantly, Figgy followed Pixie to the side door where a small flap allowed for cats, or elves, to come and go as they pleased. 

It started as soon as they were inside the garage.

AACHOOO!

“Hm. I guess I was wrong. They still have a cat.”

“MEOW! PRRRRR!”

“Er, three…four, five. Wow, there must be at least–.”

AAAAACHOOOOO!

“Ab dozen. Ab dozen cabts.”

“Oh. That makes sense. One for each kid. C’mon Figgy, let’s get you out of here.”

They pushed and prodded the door into the house until it finally gave way. Figgy tumbled into the hall covered in cat fur and sneezing.

“Poor Figgy,” sighed Pixie. “Did you bring your elfie pen?”

“Nohl. I porgot ibt.”

“Iced chocolate covered cherries dipped in sprinkles and drizzled with syrup then.”

“Bwhat? Dats not ab cure.”

“I know,” smiled Pixie. “But it will be a great pre-game snack!”

While Pixie busily made them a midnight snack, Figgy, miserable and sneezing, looked around trying to find the best place to set up the glow balloon forest. Something seemed…off. 

“What are you looking at, Figgy?” Pixie floated down to the floor next to Figgy, a small tray of chocolate covered cherries in her hands.

“Do you see anything…different?”

Pixie looked around and had the same feeling that something was not quite right in the living room. “I hear a rattling sound. Do you hear that?”

Figgy nodded. “Yes. What could it be?”

RRRUMMMBLLLE!

The elves turned in the direction of the sound and saw an avalanche pom poms bursting out of the tree. 

“RUUUN!” shouted Pixie. 

Too late. In a matter of seconds, the elves were covered in pom poms of every color and size. A small chorus of voices echoed from a recordable ornament under the tree. 

Welcome back!

The movie was really funny! 

But please…NEVER LEAVE US AGAIN!

Mischief Makers Day 17: Cozy Campers

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“Congratulations team,” Santa boomed. “You have saved Christmas at the Malloy home.”

The four elves cheered and danced and high-fived one another. 

The letter worked. Santa had received a note from the Malloy parents, retracting their last letter and thanking him for sending his Mischief Makers to remind them of what Christmas is about.

“But!” Santa interrupted. “You both need to be on your very best behavior for the rest of the season. Mischief, not messes. Ok?”

Pixie nodded. Figgy saluted. 

“We’d better get going, Figgy. Tonight’s set-up is going to take awhile.”

Watching the pair fly off through the starry sky, Santa . “I hope ‘tonight’s set-up’ is a nice, simple, not-so-messy activity.”

“Oh I’m sure it’s fine, Santa.” Nim glanced at Lil with a worried frown. “Maybe we should head there too. Just in case.”

“Good idea,” said Santa. As they took off, Santa smiled and chuckled. “Because I do know what they have planned.” 

* * *

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost snipping at your nose
Your tired carols, being sung by a —

“Figgy?”

Figgy stopped singing and turned to Pixie. “Yes, Pixie?”

“Did you just say ‘your tired carols’?”

Figgy nodded. “Yes, ‘your tired carols being sung by a choir’.”

Pixie giggled. “And…what was that about Jack Frost?”

“‘Jack Frost snipping at your nose?” 

Pixie giggled harder.

“What? That’s how it goes…isn’t it?”

“Hi guys!” Nim and Lil landed next to the small campfire and tent. 

“Wow!” said Lil. “Are you guys camping?”

“Yep! The Malloys are big campers so we thought it would be fun to try it out!” said Pixie.

“We are glad you guys could make it!” said Figgy. “We told Santa what we were doing and asked if he could send you along to join our cozy campout!”

“That sneaky Santa,” laughed Lil. “He tricked us!”

“Well, we told him we wanted it to be a surprise,” said Figgy. 

“We love camping!” said Nim. “There’s only one small problem.”

“What?” asked Pixie, looking around to see what they’d forgotten.

“There’s no tent for the Malloys!”

Figgy and Pixie looked uncertainly at Nim.

“We are trying to obey Santa and not create a huge mess.”

“Yeah,” added Pixie. “We were afraid if we built the Malloys a blanket tent, things might get out of control?”

“Out of control,” said Lil. “How?”

“Well,” began Figgy. “It might turn into a—.”

“PILLOW FIGHT!” yelled Nim, throwing a big, fluffy pillow directly at Figgy.

“Exactly,” said Pixie. 

It didn’t take much before all four elves were engaged in a massive pillow fight. Pillows covered the floor when they finally ceased. 

“At least there were no feathers,” said Figgy when he caught his breath. “That would have been a big mess.”

Nim looked around at the destruction. “Yeeaah, and this is just a little mess?”

Figgy shrugged sheepishly.

Mischief Makers Day 14: Goofy Gamers

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“I feel hooorrrrible,” muttered Figgy as he and Pixie trudged through the living room. 

“Me too. I’m sure glad Nim and Lil didn’t tell Santa about our pillow fight.”

“And that Carol and Burt didn’t write a letter.”

“But they got really upset with the kids. I just feel so bad,” said Pixie. 

“Well, the kids did put us through the wrapper early on.”

Pixie looked quizzically at Figgy. “The wrapper?”

“Yeah, you know. Put us through the wrapper…gave us a hard time.”

Pixie laughed. 

“What?” asked Figgy. 

“It’s put us through the wringer, not wrapper.”

“Oh…I guess that makes more sense. Although the wrapper in the toy shop isn’t too pleasant either. Trust me.”

Pixie was about to ask what he meant when she tripped over a game controller and tumbled head over feet to the floor. 

“Are you ok, Pixie?!” 

Huffing, Pixie got to her feet and glared at the offending game controller. 

“The kids must have forgotten to put the controllers away when they were sent to their rooms tonight,” said Figgy.

“Well they won’t need them anytime soon. How long did Burt and Carol say they were grounded for?”

“Til Christmas Eve,” grumbled Figgy. “Gabby and Gertie were pretty upset. They love playing Ultimate Chicken Horse.”

“And I don’t get it. What’s so fun about a game where you create traps and chaos for each other to fall into.”

Figgy chuckled. “Isn’t that what we do, Pixie?”

“No, we…well, ours are more…” 

Figgy raised his brows.

“Ok, point taken.”

“Maybe we should play a round or two,” said Figgy.

“Play? We don’t even know how to play.” But Figgy was already headed to the TV to get it set up.  

They tried to play, but the controllers were too big and it was too hard to reach all the buttons. “This is not fun, Figgy.”

“Oh ninny muggins! It’s these controllers,” he said. “They’re just too big for us.”

Pixie’s eyes twinkled. “Then let’s make them smaller.”

“How?” asked Figgy.

“Are you an elf, or not, Figgy?! You were a toymaker, right?”

A big smile split Figgy’s face. “Of course! I’m a little rusty, but I bet I can whip something up.”

Figgy got to work. First, he took the big controller apart, ripping wires and motherboards out and re-assembling them into  smaller versions. While he was busy with that, Pixie rounded up a few pillows, some popcorn and a big bottle of maple syrup for snacking. 

“Done!” Figgy shouted. 

“Wow, Figgy! That looks great!” 

“Let’s just play a few games before setting up the waffle bar.”

A few games turned into 5. Then 10. Then 20. They were still playing when sunlight peeked through the curtains. 

“Figgy! The waffle bar!”

“Ok,ok, but can we just finish this level?

“FIG-GY!!!”

Mischief Makers 2021 Day 1: The First Pair

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Figgy Frost and Pixie Powder stood nervously outside the small, white cottage. 

“Do you think they’re all asleep?” Pixie asked.

Figgy fidgeted. “Only one way to find out.”

Softly, the two elves flitted through a downstairs window and landed on the counter with a soft thump. Wide-eyed, they gazed around at their new Christmas-season home. 

“It’s so…clean,” said Pixie.

“And…organized,” added Figgy. 

The two elves looked anxiously at each other, the same thought on both their minds. 

“I guess we should…get started?”

“Shouldn’t we wait for Glitter? She’s bringing the list and the supplies.” Pixie peered through the window at the night sky. 

“Oh we don’t need the list anymore. I’ve got it memorized!”

“Ok, let’s figure out where we are going to set the hot chocolate bar up.”

Pixie and Figgy wandered quietly through the dark house. The sound of hooves clattering made the pair turn. Glitter, wind-blown and flustered, cantered toward them dragging a big bag overflowing with hot chocolate bar supplies. 

“Finally!” said Figgy. “Where have you been, Glitter?”

“I just left another last minute meeting with Santa, Nim and Lil. Apparently, we have inherited a B.R.A.T.T. family.”

Pixie and Figgy stared blankly at Glitter.

Glitter sighed. “I forget, you are both fairly new to the program. The B.R.A.T.T. is the “Big Rowdy Association of Tiny Tyrants.”

“The…what now?” Figgy asked.

“Big. Rowdy. Association of. Tiny. Tyrants. It’s a growing group of families who have…rambunctious children.”

When Pixie and Figgy cocked their heads, Glitter continued. “The Malloy family, this family, has had two different teams over the past two years.”

“Two teams?” Figgy gulped.

“In two years?” Pixie gasped. “Why so many?”

The kids are spirited. They are mischief makers themselves and can get rather…carried away.”

We can get carried away too.” 

Glitter smiled and coughed uncomfortably. How could she tell Pixie and Figgy what she had learned from Santa without scaring them? 

She couldn’t. She wouldn’t.   

“Yes, I know. That is why Santa thinks you two will be able to handle this job. Turn things around. Get the Malloys back on track.”

Pixie and Figgy frowned. “What do you mean “back on track”?”

“I guess what I’m saying is…this is their last chance. With Santa, it’s three strikes and, well, you know…”

“Glitter,” said Figgy. “Are you saying that if the Malloys don’t cooperate, no more Mischief Makers for them…ever?”

Glitter nodded grimly. “Exactly.” 

* * *

Determined to make this the best year for the Malloy family, Pixie and Figgy decided to set up the most fantabulous hot chocolate bar ever in the kitchen. 

“I’ll go put the note on the milk in the fridge,” said Pixie. “You finish setting up here.” 

Figgy placed the last chocolate bar on the plate and stood back to admire the display. “I think we are all set. What do you think, Pixie?”

Silence.

“Pixie?”

Figgy flew around the kitchen in search of his partner. 

“STYY AAAY  FRR TH FRG!”

“Pixie!? Where are you?”

“STYY AAAY  FRR TH FRG!!”

Figgy flew to the fridge and pulled it open. Pixie was trapped! The tip of her toe stuck out from under a glass bowl. Frantically she shook her head and waved her hands.

“I’ll help you!”

 “STYY AAAY!!”

“What? I can’t understand a word you are saying!” Figgy pried up the container to help Pixie out. 

“STAY AWAY FROM THE FRIDGE!!!” 

Thwoop! BAM! Figgy found himself in a heap next to Pixie, under a giant glass bowl.

“Maybe if we both push we can–.”

A container of syrup attached to a string flipped to its side and glug, glug, glugged all over the bowl, sealing it to the shelf and revealing a hidden note from their tormentors. 

“Ha! GOTCHA! ~Gertie and Gabe

Homestead Plant Directory

Several years ago, when we first moved into our small homestead, I started throwing wildflower seeds in our back 2ish acres where we’d let the grass grow and the thistles thrive.

I’d snap up the cheap boxes of wildflower mix whenever they’d hit the sale rack at Wal-Mart. Sometimes the boys and I would make “seed bombs” and sometimes I’d just close my eyes and sprinkle.

Time passed and soon wildflowers started popping up.

Birds spread more seeds. Then came the pollinators. Butterflies and bees did that thing they do and more flowers popped up. Soon, our grassy pasture turned into a gorgeous wildflower prairie.

But…there was one, tiny problem. I’d long thrown the boxes away and we had no idea what most of the plants and flowers were. We’d walk through our maze and marvel at the colors popping up throughout the Spring and Summer.

“Ooo, look at that pretty purple one!”

“Ahhh, that yellow one looks a little like that yellow one.”

Beauty is beauty and needs no label…but it sure would be nice to be able to describe all the wondrous plants in our pasture beyond “flowers and stuff”.

My husband had the idea to create a plant directory. I snapped up the notion and ran with it. It is now part of our science curriculum. Picking, pressing and identifying. Discussing scientific names, photosynthesis, growing zones, medicinal uses, and on and on.

We incorporated art into our lessons while we read about the flower or plant we’d chosen.

This is no small project. We have around 2 acres of prairie with flowers and plants appearing throughout the growing season. It may take us a few years to get them all. By that time, more will have come. Not from us throwing down seeds, but from nature taking over and doing it’s thing.

Nature, left alone
Creates boundless beauty, life
Thriving without end