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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Carving Adventure

Since my brother is still busy running me about England (we're in London today), I've asked my buddy Pollyanna from Life Makes Me Laugh to invade The Bungalow and leave her mark...on short notice of course, cause that's how we roll 'round here. She came up in spades and is now on my "most cool" list (it is really exclusive). With out any further ado...

Iíve never been to the UK, let alone been personally invited into Katís place so this is quite an adventure!

Iím sooooo nervous. There is so much pressure in being a guest. Am I saying the right things? Does she care that I used all the hot water composing this in the shower (Iím not knowing for a short story)? Am I entertaining enough?

Anywho, enough with my neurosis, on with the show!
The days have grown colder and the leaves are starting to change. You know what that means? Itís time to go on the annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch!

This also means Iím going to have a sticky, gooey, stringy mess in my kitchen. Of which, apparently only I have the ability to clean up. My kids (including Hubby) are sticking with the belief that itís not Halloween unless pumpkins are carved ñ not painted, CARVED.

Carving pumpkins then:
When I was a kid, you got a pumpkin you could barely carry and set it on the porch. A few days before Halloween you would spread a ton of newspapers all over the kitchen table and drag over the trash can. Dad had the butcher knife and jammed it into the top, making a fairly smooth circle with a little notch (so you knew which way the top fit back on). Everyone got their hands dirty pulling the ìgutsî out. My mom was in charge of rinsing off all the seeds and setting them out to dry so we could bake them up later. Somehow, we managed to scrape out all the yick with only a serving spoon before Dad jammed the knife into the face. We got triangle eyes & nose and a crooked smile with one or two teeth. Pop a candle inside & you were done! All of this took about an hour.

Carving pumpkins today:
While picking out the largest pumpkin we can afford, and the guts scooping hasnít changed much, the carving part has become much more sophisticated.

You can no longer use ordinary kitchen tools to empty and carve your pumpkin. There are special scrapers with short handles and beveled edges for efficiency. A half circle gear looking thing with really pointed teeth will help you trace the outline of the face youíre going to carve. Then you have the serrated tools with thin, very breakable blades for carving. How these are better, I donít know.

Now, a simple face is no good. You gotta keep up with the Jonesí, so you have to scour the internet for the best, but yet achievable by your skill level, pumpkin carving template. After finding the ìrightî template and printing it to a size that fits your pumpkin, you have to painstakingly outline the design through the template using your dangerously sharp teeth tool. Finally, youíre ready to use the knife.

I, on the other hand, had a different idea. I had seen pumpkins in a magazine where they stuck golf tees thru the shell. The end result was that they glowed with the word ìBooî. They were so stinkiní cute!

Turns out, scooping out all the gunk from inside the pumpkin is a pain in the rump. Itís kind of like child birth, as soon as the event is over, you forget how terrible the whole ordeal was. And every year, we go through the same thing ñ buy a few pumpkins to carve and end up only doing one because once we got started, the memories came flooding back (and the back ache from hunching over a pumpkin).

Anywho, I got the ìBî pumpkin emptied, and there was no way I was going through that two more times for the ìoî, ìoî.

Now what?

Hmmmm, how about just a bunch of holes? Yah, that would be cute!

Golf tees, where are the golf tees?

We didnít have any.

But I had an ice pick!

It was quite therapeutic. I stabbed that pumpkin!

And I stabbed!

And stabbed!

And stabbed! Ooooo, what fun!

When I was finished, I trotted off to the bathroom with my holey pumpkin and a candle. I lit it up to see my creation in all its glory.

I was quite disappointed. You could only see a glow coming from the back of the pumpkin ñ where the big hole was for the candle. The holes had basically self-healed after sticking the ice pick in.

I blew out the candle, picked up my pumpkin and headed back to the kitchen. Obviously, the holes needed to be larger.

I stuck the ice pick back into the holes already created and swirled it around in an attempt to make the holes larger. Even before going back to the bathroom, I could tell they probably werenít going to be big enough. But in true Pollyanna fashion, I had to go check.

Trotting to the bathroom . . .

OK ñ this time I could at least see a slight glow coming from the holes. But there was no way anyone was going to be able to see it from the bottom of the front porch steps, let alone the street or sidewalk.

I needed bigger holes. What could I use to make bigger holes?

I got it!

I ran down to the basement for my drill. º inch drill bit should do it.



You get the picture. Iíd go on, but there were at least 50 holes and I just donít think ìwzshzshzshzshzshî would be effective that many times. Ultimately, each hole was now a nice size.

Trotting to the bathroom . . .


Well, at least it was interesting.

Silver Lining:
  1. Anytime you can say you used power tools to carve a pumpkin is just gosh darn AWESOME!
  • The kids are still small so the pumpkin ritual will continue for years to come. Wonder how Iíll top this. . .


    mo.stoneskin said...

    The middle pumpkin is pretty scary. As are some of the weird characters that slipped in, though it could just be my browser...

    I've always wanted to be on Kat's cool list, in fact it is my only aim.

    You're Hubby is a kid? So what you are really saying is that you married Peter Pan? Result!

    The pale observer said...

    Great to read your pumpkin adventure!!! I had no idea there were all sorts of new rules. Last time I carved a pumpkin was when I still lived back home in Canada and it was with a big old knife and a basic face from your own imagination. Templates!??!

    Well yours turned out great. I will be back to read more.

    Cheers, your newest follower,
    Holli in Ghana

    Lorri said...

    I tried pumpkin carving one time with the children in my daycare group. Once was enough. Everyone cried when they had to scoop the pumpkin guts out. Especially me after scooping out 10 pumpkins. Then the merciless little souls wanted me to wash and roast the seeds. One kid insisted on carrying his pumpkin back and forth between his home and daycare. Every day for two weeks. Knowing his mom had to pick up the insect attracting squishy pumpkin and put it in her car every day made it all worth it.

    Joanie said...

    The only time I've ever been to England was to change planes on the way to and from Germany to visit my sister. I don't think that counts.

    Cool pumpkins! I wish I could carve like that!

    unmitigated me said...

    I'm thinkin' chain saw.

    Jenny said...

    I am a complete power tool nut, so I'm all over the idea of carving a pumpkin now! It looks pretty darn cool, too. :)

    Pollyanna said...

    Sorry about the characters (I see them too. I'm not sure what happened. I'm chalking it up to some European thing :)

    mo - I've read your blog and your comments here. Are you sure you're not Peter Pan? Regardless, marrying Peter Pan would have been cool - we could fly anywhere and live in a tree house!

    MAW - A chain saw sure would make quick work of the carving!

    All - Google "Cool Pumpkin Templates" and you'll find a whole bunch of them. Believe it or not, the scary one in the middle was a novice template. I suppose you could still use your kitchen tools - Hubby is just really into nifty gadgets *eye roll*

    Mary Anne said...

    My husband and daughter are in charge of carving. I usually take care of the seeds, except last year when my husband needed to try an Emeril Lagasse recipie for spicy pumpkin seeds (I do have to admit, they were quite tasty). They do basic cleanup, but I'm left with all of the sticky stuff to deal with. I really don't mind, though, because they have so much fun together! I WILL NOT be telling them about the idea to use the power drill, though. That could get downright ugly in my house.

    Ronnica said...

    I haven't carved a pumpkin since I was a kid, so I've never used any of the new-fangled gadgets. I did love the scooping out the goop by hand, though!

    Tracie Nall said...

    Those pumpkins are pretty awesome....I think I like the one on the left with all of the swirls on it, but you can't beat a pumpkin "carved" with power tools!

    Captain Dumbass said...

    Stabbing the pumpkin? I can get behind that.

    honeywine said...

    That is so cool! I was just thinking about doing something like that, but I had no idea how to get started even.

    Sprite's Keeper said...

    Loving the middle pumpkin!

    Sue said...

    Hey, nice job! I did the pumpkin with the holes in it one year. I love that look, I was too lazy this year. Mine has a bow, no carving at all.


    Pollyanna said...

    FYI - The swirly one was done with a Dremel. A much more tame power tool and not nearly as much fun.

    SquirrelQueen said...

    Very cool pumpkins, the middle one is frightfully cool.

    You mean there is another way to carve pumpkins without power tools?


    The Mom said...

    Oh for the good old days when pumpkin carving with the "big" knife was so much fun. However, the new tools make very interesting pumpkins. The seeds were always a pick treat and tastes sooooooooooooooo good!.
    Nice story and congrats for being asked to fill in for someone on vacation.

    Liz Wilkey (a.k.a. A Mom on Spin) said...

    Awesome guest post!

    Kimberly Wright said...

    I love pumpkin carving. I was laughing at your comment about the utensils in the kits breaking. It is so true. We have also used power drills to make our creations!

    They look awesome!

    Cougar Tales said...

    Wow! These pumpkins are amazing. I am not a huge fan of Halloween decor although I am of fall decor. These pumpkins are somewhat elegant with the designs.

    - Cougs

    Casey said...

    They look awesome! I've done the lots of holes in a pumpkin trick before and it turned out cool. It's amazing how high tech they've gotten as of late.

    plainolebob said...

    Polly, hey you did a great job, we usually just shoot some buckshot in em and call ti a day, lol, jk.
    them dang pumkins, them candles never last long enuff.
    Bess Says Hi

    Jen said...

    those are some cool pumpkins

    Aunt Juicebox said...

    We had similar experiences with pumpkin carving as a kid, but my daughter has never really been into it. The past couple of years we haven't even bought a pumpkin to carve. Party pooping teenager!

    PJ said...

    Hey Kat!~ Those pumpkins are fantastic! I wish I was artistic.