Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooky Graveyard

Forgot to post this picture of the yard with all the tombstones up--though this afternoon our neighbors were playing soccer in our yard and knocked one right in half running through them--had to put him back together with duct tape (the tombstone, not our neighbor)--little twerp.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cakes and Cupcakes and Pretzels...oh my

So the last two days I've spent the better part of the day baking,frosting, dipping, rolling and generally covered in chocolate, caramel and batter. Mom and I did our marathon baking/cooking session.

Thursday was the dipping day, wherein we dipped large pretzel sticks first in caramel, then chocolate (we had three different kinds--milk, white, and dark), then rolled in some kind of finely chopped topping (we had ~ 7 different types). It was slightly insane--we got about 114 sticks done (minus ones that broke or that were tasters). Then the packaging portion of the evening came. We put each stick in a wee bag with a twistie tie, then put several of those in a larger goodie bag (with bats punched out in them and ribbon woven through the bag cutouts) with a card and stickers. I got to keep for the party whatever mom didn't give to neighbors. The result of these was like a homemade candy bar on a stick--really yummy. So lots of effort, but definitely worth the time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Last O the Lot

'And another one bites the dust...' (song stuck in head--thanks Natalie:)) Theme song for tonight--I finished four more pumpkins (three real, 1 fake). Worm food, Spider, Bats Lantern, and V for Vendetta. The bats lantern was ridiculously easy--had basically a cookie cutter with sharp edges and a wooden mallet. Very therapeutic. Technically one more real one left, but I'm going to offer it to Sam and just focus on the Halloween party--found some cool recipes and going to try them out. So here's a shot of some of the new ones (more pics in the gallery)

Sore hand...

Oye. My hand is fairly cramped up right now--more of a claw really. Had the carving night last night--much fun was had and we did some truly awesome pumpkins (

I did a gargoyle last night--slightly clipped one of his wings:( But other than that he looks okay. Today I apparently had a bout of madness--I did three pumpkins within a four hour period. By myself. I love the pumpkin gutter--it definitely saves my fingernails from having pumpkin shoved under them--but it does get a bit heavy, especially if you don't have anyone helping 'spell' you in the gutting. Anyway, did a set of creepy ones--Michael Jackson from Thriller, a drippy skull, and Nosferatu. I'm good with how all of them turned out--though the skull has a wee piece missing from where my hand slipped. Oh well... Excellent news is that the string of lights has totally worked out--I threaded the bulbs through my tiered plant holder and hooked them up to my timer, so the patterns really stand out. Yay! Four more to go....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Pumpkins!!

That staples commercial with the parent gleefully buying office supplies for his kids? That was me with pumpkins today. Picked up four more at the grocery store--down to 12 cents. Carving get together is on Sunday, so I need to pull out all my knives and tools--currently they're a bit scattered about. Did a little more work on the house last night--lots of spiderwebs up, one (of five) ghosts up, and a tombstone. The rest of the tombstones (13) are ready to go, but I'm slightly watching the weather to see if it's going to downpour, in which case, they might need to be reprinted. Anyway, here's a couple pics of the house and the pumpkins.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lots of Luminaries

Ookay, went a wee bit crazy with the luminaries tonight. I found this site ( that sells plain white paper bags for fairly cheap (as in, 500 for $10) and they arrived today! Yay!

So I had also (in preparation) gotten some fine point sharpies. Also used my swing arm led light, which helped with the not going blind part of the project. So I did a couple different shots of the finished ones. Here's just some random patterns, no particular theme:

Demon, Alien, Goat, Devil, Spider

Then I went for a slightly more coherent theme--the Nightmare Before Christmas:

Oogie boogie, monster, Zero, Sally, Jack

And finally, Zombie Pumpkins array of Jack-O-Lantern a kitty...

That's all the luminaries for now--haven't decided how extensive they're going to be throughout the house.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Neon Bracelets

Happy accidental discovery! Had bought some of those florescent bracelets to hand out to the trick-or-treaters--they were a huge hit last year--and was dinking around with them and popped one into the luminaries--Ping! Idea formed. I tested the bracelets (linked into a circle) in a small pumpkin--puts out a sufficient amount of light. And two really glows. I'm always looking for different light sources, partly because of storage issues, mostly because I live in dread of my pumpkin lights getting stolen. I usually end up putting your basic fifty cent flameless votive in the real pumpkins, which is fine, but it definitely limits your options in colors. One year I found a multi-colored votive, but those are fairly scarce (or at least expensive). I know it isn't quite as eco-friendly as reusing lights each year, but if I could just use these bracelets, maybe a couple in each pumpkin, it would open up my options in colors for each pumpkin. Definitely something to consider. Plus, Michaels is having them on sale for $1. Perhaps I'll make a stop there as well as at the dollar store. Anyway, here's a pic of two yellow bracelets in a luminary--looks pretty good, and the brightness is just right.


I just remembered that I need to scrounge up a sizable bucket (several if I can manage it) to provide some rejuvenation for my real pumpkins. All the advice about petroleum jelly and the ever fresh stuff that you can spray on right after you carve can't hold a candle to a bucket full of water for reviving pumpkins. Whenever mine start to wilt, I jut soak it for a couple of hours in the bucket and they pop right back up. Obviously, there's an increased chance of mold, but really, a bucket can extend a carved pumpkin's life quite a bit. My record so far was a two week old carved pumpkin that finally started to give into mold and wear and tear. Another must is the cold. I once made the (rookie) mistake of keeping a carved pumpkin indoors. When the thermostat was set on heat. = exploded pumpkin bits all over the kitchen table. Yeah, that was a fun smell to clean up. Plus, if I'm going to be doing lots of pumpkins, I'll need lots of buckets out back. I was planning on hitting the dollar store tomorrow, maybe I'll check out their garbage cans and see what I can find.

Luminary Experiment

So I've experimented with doing luminaries this past year--copied over some hindu writing on some white paper bags that turned out great for a Bollywood night. I thought I would try doing a bunch of these luminaries just using pumpkin patterns and line them up on the back porch near the firepit for some cheap decoration. I'm going to check out getting slightly larger ones--the more intricate patterns don't stand out all that well and the patterns are harder to draw/copy when they're so small. On the other hand, a larger bag might dilute some of the light. Mom found some "Flora Lyte Submersibles" at her junk store--basically they're purple mini lights that can go underwater (very cool for cauldrons)...or in luminaries. Here's a couple of luminaries that I'm testing out to see if it's a feasible project--the more intricate 'trick or treat' doesn't show up quite as well from a distance as the jack, though the purple lights are quite a bit brighter than my flameless tea candles from the dollar store.

Monday, October 12, 2009

All Lit Up

Wired some of my precarved pumpkins and some lights up on the patio last night. I picked up some cheap orange ones--I wanted a bit more light than I did last year with my green glowing hanging spider sacs last year. I was barely able to really see anything or any of the cute costumes that the kids had. These orange ones are nice and subtle, not too bright so that they don't overpower the pumpkins. Also hooked up my rainbow lights with their adapters to the pumpkins and set everything on a timer--it's just not worth it to have to daily turn all the pumpkins on everyday. I ordered some more adapters--they just eat up the batteries otherwise, plus it's nice to just have everything preset. I found a potential new light as well--a row of corded night light lights--where you can just put the pumpkins over the light and again have everything set on a timer. I'm a huge fan of timers. Here's the initial result--still much to be done. Pic turned out a bit blurry, but there you go.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gutting Away

How rare is it that a product actually holds up to what it promises? I am over the moon about the pumpkin gutter!!! Soooo excellent. I deliberately bought a large pumpkin to get some practice with the drill, and partly to put it through the paces. Normally this size of a pumpkin would have taken me a good hour to do all the prep work--gutting, and thinning the walls, plus I would have been covered arm to front in pumpkin goo and my nails would have been sore from having pumpkin driven under them. 15 FREAKING MINUTES!!! and this pumpkin was totally ready to be carved, and my hands were mostly goo free and my clothes were totally clean. The only thing I ended up having to do was to scrape at the very bottom some of the innards that the angle of the gutter couldn't quite reach. Definitely helps to have the pumpkin on the ground--and letting gravity help. Thinning the walls was absolutely no problem--seriously fast and easy. I meant to take pictures, but honestly it went so fast that the pumpkin was all done and prepped before I thought to pull out my camera. Well, this definitely opens up the possibility of more pumpkins. My family has offered to be 'gutter monkeys' so that I can focus on the carving, which would be wonderful. Now I just have to pick my patterns....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Franken Carving

Did a fake (large) carving of Frankenstein for Mom. He really only looks cool if you have the pumpkin light set steady to green. He turned out pretty well. I did the same pattern a few years ago and ended up giving him away to a good home. I'm definitely loving the burning (craft?) tool--it's most excellent for fake pumpkins. The only trouble is that it tends to heat up enough to singe your fingers. It's not bad if you're only using it moderately for 15 minutes, but any longer and your hands starts to creep up the handle away from the heat, which means less control and more of a chance of your hand slipping and having a fun burn mark to explain. Still loving the saral paper--I'm wondering how different it will be on a real pumpkin; so far I've just done fake ones. Definitely speeds up the process, and the burn tool even more so. Well I've heard that the grocery stores have started to stock pumpkins, so I'll probably get one here in the next few days. I really want to try out the gutter drill bit to see how it stands up. I've heard such wonderful things about it and am hoping that my expectations don't fall totally flat. Cross your fingers...