Mario O’ Lantern
I know we’ve had sort of a pumpkin theme going on the blog here lately with Mary-Hall’s “How To Eat Your Jack-O-Lantern series (Part 1 and Part 2) and of course the ever-popular (and recently controversial) Paleo Pumpkin Scone post from last year. But I just had to bring you one more pumpkin related post before letting the topic rest for a bit.
I found out very early on in my relationship with Keith that he was the pumpkin master. The man in known for turning out incredibly artistic pumpkins each year and thus when we became family, he imparted all his pumpkin carving secrets to me and it’s become quite the family tradition now. This past Saturday night we headed over to visit with our friends David and Amanda for their annual “Pumpkin Carv-inival.” We’ve had some fairly epic (in my opinion) pumpkins in the past so we knew we had to bring it this year. Before I show you our creations from this year, lets take a stroll down Bordeaux-Pumpkin memory lane, shall we?
Sadly, 2012 was a pumpkin-less year. So much going on. No time to carve the pumpkins.
I’m not a good decision maker when it comes to stuff like this…choosing a pumpkin pattern was eclipsed only by the difficulty of choosing a costume for tonight’s costume party (I’ll bring you photos from that later on this week)…but after much deliberation, I settled on keeping with the cartoon character theme I began in 2011 with my Angry Birds pumpkin and chose Mario from the original Super Mario Brothers Nintendo game. I’m a child of the 80s. What can I say? Keith decided to go with the main character from one of his favorite shows…
In case you want to get all fancy-town with your pumpkins this year, I’ll leave you with a few tips.
1. Choose a pattern to sketch onto your pumpkin first. We have had great success with the Zombie Pumpkin website. You have to pay to download them, but the rates are pretty reasonable. $2 for 2 patterns, or $5 for 25 patterns. They also have them ranked by difficulty level so if you’re just starting out, you can choose a simple one, or get all crazy with it if you’re feeling up to the challenge. Just tape the pattern on the the pumpkin, use a toothpick to punch small holes to make a dotted “outline” of the pattern on the pumpkin, then remove the pattern and use it as a guide as you cut. MAKE SURE YOU DOUBLE CHECK WHICH AREAS STAY AND WHICH ARE CUT OUT! (Our friend Blake had his daughter draw a picture and used that as the pattern for the pumpkin. It turned out super cute and is a great way to have a cheap pattern as well as getting your kids involved without handing them a knife.)
2. Instead of cutting out the top of the pumpkin to make a lid, cut out the bottom of the pumpkin and throw it away. This way the stem of the pumpkin is the “handle.” Simply light a candle (or place a flashlight or other electric light) on your front step or wherever you choose to display your pumpkin, and then use the stem as a handle to set the pumpkin on top of the light source. So easy.
3. Scoop out as much as you can to make carving simple. Obviously you’ll want to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. But if you keep on going and remove some of the meat as well, then it makes carving a whole lot easier since you don’t have as much to cut through. Also, if your pattern calls for shading, making the wall thinner will help the light shine through and show more detail.
4. Make sure you use the tools of the trade. Surprisingly enough, I really love those little $4 pumpkin carving kits you get at the grocery store. We have always had great success with them. They are easier to maneuver than large knives and you’re less likely to get hurt with the mini saw than a meat cleaver anyway. You can also find a step up kit for about $15 and they even make little battery-powered saws (although poor Blake was accused of cheating when he whipped one of those out the other night.) I’ve also heard that tools used in pottery and clay making (Those little wooden and metal-tipped tools) are great for pumpkin carving although I’ve not tried it.
5. Pumpkins don’t last forever. Just like my beloved Pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, pumpkins don’t stick around forever. At best, you’ll get a few days out of your creation. So. Figure out when to carve your pumpkin depending on when you want it to be displayed. And, take lots of photos of it while it still looks good!
Best wishes in all your pumpkin carving endeavors. I’d love to see what you guys come up with!
And in totally unrelated news…..my nieces and my brother-in-law Mark went camping this past weekend with friends, and the following music video was born. We basically can’t stop watching it. The “breakdown” that occurs at 2:02 by my niece Abigail is, well, just watch for yourself. (And don’t forget, if you want to be a fox this year for Halloween, you could totally modify Mary-Hall’s DIY costume pattern.)