A Pumpkin Carving Party

Deviled Egg Monster Eyeballs

Wow.  Five months since a post.  Oh well, I was a little busy…but I’ll get into that later.  Now, a pumpkin carving party!

Someone in my work group decided that we (our studio) should get together and carve pumpkins.  As I’m newly moved to Richmond, and have an excellent space to do it, I volunteered to host a little party!  It was great fun, and it was wonderful to see all the creations people made.

Carved Pumpkins

Carved Pumpkins

I know this is NOT a good picture, but it’s the best I could get with my phone.  Some people used stencils from those carving kits, others went free-hand.  Mine is in the very back and is more surface carving than an actual jack-o-lantern.  I thought everyone did a really good job.  For our tools, we actually found the carving kits to be easiest and best to use.  We also had a surface carving kit, and I had some wire clay working tools (from a ceramics class I took years ago) that worked really well for details.  We also discovered that with the pumpkins that are mostly surface carved, you want to make sure you have an air hole or two for the candles (if you are using a real flame), and two candles give you a really good glow.  Otherwise, it can be hard to see the design.

I also set up a spread of food for our revelers.

Pumpkin Carving Party Food Spread

Pumpkin Carving Party Food Spread

I made deviled monster eye eggs, pumpkin bread, chili (with all the fixings), mummy dogs, and had candy and a veggie platter.  Drinks included blood orange soda, Ed Hardy Sangria, Black Cat Reisling, and Sparkling Apple Cider.  Everything was really yummy, especially the mummy dogs.

Mummy Dogs  Hot Dogs

Mummy Hot Dogs

They are so easy to make!  Take two cans of crescent rolls, and two packages of hot dogs (14 dogs in total), and cut the cresent rolls into thin strips and wrap them around the hot dogs.  You can leave a little opening for the “eyes”, but I didn’t bother.  Wrap about 4 strips around each dog, and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees in the oven.

I was proud of how my eyeball eggs turned out too, except I wish I had a little more white showing.

Deviled Egg Monster Eyeballs

Deviled Egg Monster Eyeballs

A little food coloring goes a long way. I made the eggs as I normally would make deviled eggs, except I addded two drops of green food coloring to the yolks when mixing them up.  To complete the look, a toothpick with some red food coloring to draw on the veins, and a sliced olive for the center.

They are pretty simple recipes, and you can find them all (and lots of variations) online.

And one last picture- this years Halloween Hearth

Halloween Hearth 2013

Halloween Hearth 2013

I took some cuttings from some plants in my garden, and used my old Halloween decorations.  I know this picture is not very good, or show much detail, but it’s all I got for right now.  Soon I will share more pictures of my new house and garden… mwhahahaha!

This little party was so fun, maybe it will become a yearly tradition!

 

An Heirloom Pumpkin Primer

Ghost Rider Pumpkin

Growing up, every year we would take a trip to Yeager’s Farm and ride the hay wagon to the pumpkin patch, and pick out a pumpkin.  There was typically only one variety to choose from (that I remember).  But it wasn’t just there, anywhere you went, choices were limited to the typical round, orange pumpkin.  The only choices you had were between how long or short you wanted the stem, and if you wanted a short, round squashed looking pumpkin, or something more oblong, tall and skinny.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

That all changed a few years ago when I stumbled across the pumpkin selection at a small, family run farm in Virginia.  I talk about them a lot, but only because we love them, and want them to have a great business.  Miller Farms Market.

I was blown away by the variety.  So many colors, shapes, sizes, and crazy things!  I am actually hoping to interview Jo at the farm, and put together something more substantial than one blog post about pumpkins.  Namely, I want to show you what options there are.  Check with your local farmers or grow your own!

First up, the Cinderella Pumpkin.

Cinderella Pumpkin

Cinderella Pumpkin

These are large, fun pumpkins that are a french heirloom variety.  Supposedly, the pilgrims planted and used these in the First Thanksgiving.  Also, they are delicious.  Nearly all the pumpkins they grow here are also great to use in recipes!

The Fairytale Pumpkin

Fairytale Pumpkin

Fairytale Pumpkin

Fairytale pumpkins are actually shaped very similarly to the Cinderella pumpkins, but are mostly green with some yellow variations.  They are nice and wide, and sort of flat on top, great for stacking.

Pumpkins on a bench display at Miller Farms.

Pumpkins on a bench display at Miller Farms.

The Ghost Rider Pumpkin

Ghost Rider Pumpkin

Ghost Rider Pumpkin

I may actually be wrong about the identity of this pumpkin, I need to check with the Millers.  But these are more like the typical carving pumpkins you see everywhere.  However, all of these seem to be the perfect size and shape, and have those wonderfully dark handles.

The Blue Hubbard

Blue Hubbard

Blue Hubbard

Blue Hubbard is actually a squash, and is an old tradition in New England.  I used mine a few years ago to make an alien head- they are shaped quite nicely!

Alien Pumpkin Head

Alien Pumpkin Head

Orange Hubbard

Orange Hubbard

Orange Hubbard

The Miller’s are growing these for the first time this year, and are supposed to be another delicious squash.

Jarrahdale Pumpkins

Jarrahdale

Jarrahdale

These pumpkins have a wonderful light greenish-gray color.  They are deeply ribbed and really great for cooking.

Long Island Cheese

Long Island Cheese

Long Island Cheese

The Long Island Cheese pumpkin is so named for it’s shape, size, and color.  It looks like a giant wheel of buttery cheese.  These are great to use in pumpkin pies, and we just bought one to make a pie from scratch!

Lumina

Lumina

Lumina

The Lumina pumpkin is a very pretty, white pumpkin that is also very tasty.  These look great carved, with a bright orange flesh inside.

Little Pumpkins

Pumpkemon, Baby Boo, and Munchkin

Pumpkemon, Baby Boo, and Munchkin

There are three varieties pictured here, Pumpkemon is the larger, green and white gourd.  The small white pumpkin is a Baby Boo.  The smallest is a Munchkin, but they also can grow to the same size as the others.  I brought these three little guys home with me.  They are so cute!

Display Shelves at Miller Farms Market

Display Shelves at Miller Farms Market

They have so many other fun decorative, harvest elements at Miller Farms.  Dried corn stalks, indian corn, grapevines, Osage oranges, and all sorts of gourds.  We went there today for the Taste of the Farm event.  Local farmers, crafters, bakers, cheese makers, creameries, and more were there to hand out tons of yummy free samples.  Jo Miller also demonstrated how to cook and prepare a pumpkin to use the flesh in recipes.

Indian Corn

Indian Corn

This place is really neat to visit.  All the pictures (except the carved alien head and mini-pumpkins) were taken at Miller Farms by me.  I am not sponsored or anything by them, I just want them to succeed so that I can keep going back to buy fresh milk, fresh vegetables, and fun gifts.

Raised garden beds at Miller Farms

Raised garden beds at Miller Farms

Support your local farms and communities!

 

 

A Halloween Hearth

Detail pumpkin tealight holder

Welcome to the Lucky Lass!  It’s Fall Y’All!

Unfortunately, I do not have a mantel, but I do have a raised hearth.  I love to decorate for Halloween and started early this year.

Fall Fireplace 2011

Fall Fireplace 2011

 

I put together two vignettes, and a string of skeletons.  I have a hard time finding places for these skeletons to work, and I’m not sure they’ll stay here.

The painting above is titled “My Baby Wants to Rock and Roll” by local artist, Gabriel Pons.  I think he’s pretty awesome.

Alien Gourds

Alien Gourds

On the left, I have a couple of outrageous gourds that I picked up at Miller Farms Market, an art deco vase with some branches, a photo of my husband as a baby boy, and some skeletons hanging out.  These gourds have so much movement to them, they seem alive- that’s why I call them alien gourds.

Fireplace Vignette with stained cheese box

Fireplace Vignette with stained cheese box

On the right is some more gourd action, but in the form of mini-pumpkins.  I love the colors and varieties of them all!  Some candles and micro pumpkins are there to give some ambiance at night.

Detail little gourds

Detail little gourds

The pumpkin cut-out is a tealight holder that my sister made in girl scouts (brownies?).  I like it, as corny as it is!

Detail pumpkin tealight holder

Detail pumpkin tealight holder

They are all resting on a cheese box I recently stained (seen here).  The little black tree that holds the other end of the skeleton string, is a Michael’s find.  It comes as a two-piece wood cut out that fits together.  I spray painted it black, and it has lived in various places different years.  The skeletons really love it though.  It’s sitting on an antique lace doily.  It is in a star pattern, but it was the closest thing I had that looked vaguely spider-webbish.  Because the tree is black and the box is so dark, I really needed something to provide contrast between the two.

Lace doily

Lace doily

Instead of the skeletons, I think a banner across the top in fun and funky fabrics would look great and help to finish the space.

Fall Fireplace 2011

Fall Fireplace 2011

Thanks for visiting!

 

Halloween Decorations 2011 (and earlier)

Detail mini pumpkins

I love decorating for Halloween and Fall.  Fall is my favorite season.  I love the break from the heat into cool, crisp weather.  There are beautifully blue clear skies, a burst of color everywhere with trees, and a feeling of calmness outside as the buzzing and staccato of summer die down.

When decorating for Halloween, I love to use organic items like pumpkins, seeds, gourds, and branches.

Pumpkins out front

Pumpkins out front

There is a farm nearby that we like to visit for food, decorations, and plants.  Miller Farms is run by a family of incredibly nice people.  It used to be a dairy farm, but a few years back, they decided to try something new.  With reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, they wanted to run a sustainable, green farm.  That is, not to say they won’t use pesticides if they have a bad outbreak because they really depend on the food they produce.  But, they raised chickens, and meat cows, and would cycle the animals through different parcels of land for healthy, grass fed eggs and beef.  They also grow a variety of vegetables, and carry an assortment of different plants throughout the year.  One way they really shine though, is that they took to the new movement for good-for-you local food, and found vendors nearby to sell all sorts of products at their farmhouse.  They sell all sorts of meats, dairy products, canned products, homemade breads and sweets, and gifts.  I love their homemade scrubbies, and I get some more potpourri every year.  I also bought the cheese boxes from them.  Recently, in addition to the cooking classes they offer monthly (during fine weather months) they are now doing a “farm to table” meal.  Tickets are expensive, but they are worth it.  I love this place, and the Millers are trying their hardest to create a wonderful, family atmosphere.

The pumpkins in this picture are from a few years ago.  I bought them all at Miller Farms, and love all the different varieties they offer.  They have even more this year!  I can’t wait to go back and get a wide variety.  (I’ll try to remember to take pictures too).  A year later, I bought this pumpkin, and thought it looked like an alien head.  So I carved two eyes and a mouth, and let it sit out a little too long…

Alien Pumpkin Head

Alien Pumpkin Head

Creepy isn’t it?  I’m amazed at how “realistic” it looks.  The decaying organic matter really sets the tone.

Alien Pumpkin Head

Alien Pumpkin Head

The shape was perfect.  Eeew!  :)

Last year, I planted mums in the fall.  Mums have never come back for me, ever.  So I was very surprised to see some plants growing this spring.  And now, they’ve become monsters!

Mum Crazy

Mum Crazy

That mum is about two feet wide.  Please excuse the unkempt yard creeping in.

Indoors, I like to use fake pumpkins.  I don’t want to risk ruining the surface of any fabrics or wood with decaying pumpkins, plus I can use them year after year.  I did buy a few little pumpkin gourds at Miller Farms however.

Detail little pumpkins and gourds

Detail little pumpkins and gourds

These are tiny, with the largest one being about 4″ wide.  They are part of a larger vignette on my fireplace hearth.

Fireplace Vignette with stained cheese box

Fireplace Vignette with stained cheese box

Here’s a detail of the pumpkin tealight holder my sister made (in girlscouts?). I thought it was fun and wanted to keep it!

Detail mini pumpkins

Detail mini pumpkins

I also picked up a few crazy looking gourds.  I think they also look like they could be aliens.

Detail crazy looking gourd

Detail crazy looking gourd

They are so full of movement and life!  Here’s the whole fireplace and surround.

Fall Fireplace 2011

Fall Fireplace 2011

In my front hall/foyer, I’ve made another little pumpkin vignette.  My original vignette on this space, which I did not get a picture of, was ruined by a very curious kitty.  As it was told to me, someone’s claw got stuck on the fabric covering the table, scared the kitty, that took off running, and toppled the table and everything on it.  I need to reglue my pumpkin topiary, and it destroyed a little frame and cat decoration.  I will try to glue/mend both of these objects, but for now, this little ditty will do.  I used a black cloth on the table, and put an antique lace doily on top to mimic a little bit of a spider web.  I think my grandmother may have made this doily.  I made the pumpkin topiary a few years ago.  Before they sold black fake pumpkins, I bought an orange one and sprayed it black.  I then hot glued on striped ribbon, some rhinestones, a little black feather boa where the pumpkins meet, and a spiderweb bow on top.  I bought the “Black Cat, Salem Mass.” print in Salem, Mass. when I visited my sister two years ago.  The little pumpkins I drew on the back of the insert paper for the little frame that I picked up at Michael’s last year.

Hall Table Vignette

Hall Table Vignette

This year, while perusing Michaels for some inspiration for this years decorations, I came across two ideas that stuck out at me.  First, was a project that included chalkboard paint.  I will write a post about that in a little while.  Second, I found this “gilded” pumpkin on sale.  I originally wanted to “gild” my own using some of the new paints from the Martha Stewart Collection, but I couldn’t beat the price on this (on sale, plus coupon).  I had bought this plaster urn ages ago, and thought it would look good as a pedestal for my new pumpkin.

Table Vignette with gilded pumpkin and chalkboard pots

Table Vignette with gilded pumpkin and chalkboard pots

I also found the little white ceramic skull for $1.  The silver candlesticks are family heirlooms, and the other pumpkins I’ve picked up here and there.  Sneak peak of the chalkboard painted pots there.

And here’s another vignette I was playing around with.  Unfortunately, my cat wants to eat the craft straw like they’re crispy chinese noodles.  She won’t stop, so I mostly have to keep these up and away from little kitties.

Table Vignette

Table Vignette

I think I’m going to do a second posting on Halloween decorations because I am not finished decorating/crafting yet.

I feel like I finally have enough decorations that I could put on a neat little Halloween party this year.  I’m really hoping I can pull it together.  :)

Happy Fall!