Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!!


Happy Halloween!

It's been an odd year for me with the move and the change in living circumstances. I'm still getting a bit adjusted I think. So...I have some bad news. No crazy pumpkin display this year. (Don't fret...this isn't the end of the fun...)We did grow some pumpkins in our garden this year, but they were mostly smaller in size, so carving and assembly really wasn't an option. I did consider creating a painted display instead. But...I opted out because of these guys...

Left to right: Sage, Pippa, & Canadian
If I had painted the pumpkins, these guys wouldn't be lucky enough to get a good little treat. They not only find pumpkins delicious, but pumpkin is a natural dewormer for pigs. So...I'm taking the easy way out and pampering the pigs. The little ones will get a few, but the majority will go to the bigger guys and gals. They love them. In fact, these girls' mama has already wolfed down her fair share over the last month or so.

But all is not lost! I still have some Halloween goodness for you. I was lucky enough to be contacted a while back by a gentleman working on an article featuring Halloween crafts. He featured my first lawn display...the Pumpkin Massacre from way back in 2011. In addition, he has some other great decorative ideas that you can consider incorporating into your own displays next year. You can have a little reminder of where the pumpkin fun all started and find some new creative Halloween fun. Head over here and check it out!

As for me...I'm getting ready to put my traditional Halloween chili in the pot and then I'll be making cornbread later in the evening. We live out away from town, so we aren't likely to see any trick-or-treaters, but we have candy at the ready just in case. We'll probably end up eating it all ourselves...such a shame. I'm obviously devastated. And...since I'm now apparently a Minnesota girl, we'll be cozying up on the couch and watching the Vikings game.

I hope you all have a wonderfully spooky Halloween!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Post-Pumpkin Picture-a-Palooza

Happy day after Halloween! Pumpkin pictures are coming... (This is a photo heavy post, so bear with me...)


Well...what a crazy week it was! I actually meant to post a few more times before Halloween actually got here, but it just wasn't in the cards. I was up to my elbows in pumpkins for far too many days.

There were a few mishaps, resulting in the loss of a few pumpkins (both carved and not). We had a mold outbreak that took a handful before I could get anywhere with them and required a small replacement batch. Ultimately, I got so burnt that I stopped carving before I was really done, leaving two planned pumpkins unfinished -- though I got the critical figures completed before I bailed on the carving knife.


We got everything assembled and ready to go by about 6...just in time for the first trick-or-treaters to start arriving. After that, the night was a batch of craziness, with trick-or-treaters stretching down the front sidewalk and all along the sidewalk at the front yard. It was insanity. So...my plans of uploading and editing photos last night fell by the wayside. But no worries...I'm back today with photos for everyone.

But...before we get to that... for those of you who are new, let's start with a short little back story...

I have a love for weird things. If you've read the blog, you know this to be true. I'm far from ordinary. I also have an intense love for Halloween. It is by far my favorite holiday. Better than Christmas, better than my birthday. If I had my way, it would last a full week instead of just one day. Because of this, I had an epiphany a few years ago that the Calvin and Hobbes snowman sketches would be a great idea to do with pumpkins. At our house, we go big or go home. And thus...a tradition was born. We've now had a total of four completed displays. This year will be our fifth. We do a different theme every year.


This year... Minions!


We couldn't just go with the new movie...we had to bring back a bit of the old fun too.


Of course there were minions...


The necessary bad guys...


Herb...


...and Scarlet Overkill.


We made sure to include the important three. Kevin (who was a challenge the entire time and a large risk thanks to his squishiness)...


Stuart (who was supposed to be holding a guitar that never materialized)...


...and adorable Bob.


I certainly could't leave out the Queen. I will admit though...it was a bit odd to be carving a real person.


And Norbert was just an adorable addition to the mini-minion army we assembled.

With all of the necessary characters amassed, we took the opportunity to engage in a little bit of throwback to the original... a little bit of Despicable Me.


The good / bad guy Gru...


His (slightly squishy) devil dog, Kyle...


The three girls: Edith...


Margo (my personal favorite)...


and the adorable Agnes.


As usual, we had a blast. I've been exhausted all day and there is still a lovely mess to clean up, but it was well worth it. And a BIG thanks once again to our amazing sponsors this year, Meridian's The Farmstead Corn Maze and Pumpkin Festival! They helped make all of this year's fun possible.

I've already started forming plans for next year's display. We've decided on a new tradition. Each year, we will be dressing up as characters from the next year's plan. So...those of you paying attention to the Instagram feed already know the theme for 2016. Don't spill the beans...

It always goes so quickly...my favorite time of year. Hard to believe that it's already November. I'll be spurring up a surprise later this month. Darian and I are working on a little something for Thanksgiving week. So stay tuned...we'll be announcing here in the next week or so.

Also...I had a question via email earlier this week, so I wanted to let all of you readers in the know that YES I will be hosting the Book of the Year Bracket Challenge again this/next year. So if you haven't been keeping track, time to figure out all the books you've read this year. Signups will open in December and we'll start taking on the brackets in January!

I hope you've all enjoyed sharing in our Halloween fun! We certainly love seeing the joy on the faces of others when they see our creations.

Happy belated Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy Pumpkin Week!

This Saturday is Halloween. Around here, that only means one thing... PUMPKINS!

Preparation work for the yard display is in full swing over here. I'm drowning in pumpkins. I'm down a gutter this year as Collin will be working out of town until Friday, but Darian has stepped up to help. I'm working with a total of 36 large pumpkins and 4 small pumpkins this time around. Thus far, 21 of the needed 31 guttings are completed. I should be able to wrap up that phase today and then move on to the good stuff.


We've had one interesting and fantastic development this year. We have got ourselves a sponsor! How awesome is that? I'm lucky enough to know the wife of the team that owns The Farmstead Corn Maze & Pumpkin Festival in Meridian. They have been amazingly generous this year and helped to supply us with some great pumpkins. 


We retrieved our bounty last Saturday with the help of two particularly adorable little pumpkin wranglers. It took us four carts and three trips, but we managed to get everything out to the truck relatively smoothly. The girls loved being able to pull a wagon together and were pretty darned great despite the air that got chillier towards the end.

The pumpkins are now all safely tucked in the garage. Gutting started Monday and I've just been picking away at it. All of the gear is out and ready and our best tools are being put to the test once again. (For the record...tried the mixer this year with completely failing results. If you want a good gutting instrument, stick with the ice cream scoop.)


We're excited to put on another fun display this year. It's going to be a crazy week, but I'm determined to make this happen!

To keep up with all the pumpkin fun, be sure to follow over on my Instagram. You'll get all the good sneak peeks there as the week rolls along. Happy pumpkin week everyone!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Chili...and...The LEGO Movie Pumpkin Extravaganza!!

*** Photo heavy post, so this might take a bit to load for some of you...  Trust me...it's worth it! ***


Happy day after Halloween everyone!

Around here, Halloween is our favorite holiday. Pumpkins are a way of life. This year though...well...it was a little rougher than the past few. It's been unseasonably warm around here and that - coupled with our bagging routine and the fact that we started a little earlier due to the sheer number of carvings - resulted in some pumpkin squishiness that we've been able to avoid in the past. 

Because of that, we ended up scrapping two characters who had pieces collapse during construction (a construction version of Emmet and a SWAT guard). Additionally, our poor spaceman Benny lost his legs before we saw any trick-or-treaters. One of the only pictures that exists of him in full form is pictured above, taken a mere two minutes before I heard the unmistakable sounds of squishy pumpkin destruction. The loss of pumpkins was a first for us, but we powered through.

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, then you had sneak peeks throughout the week and a few previews yesterday of the pumpkin display. Today I'll be sharing photos of each character...though some were more photogenic than others.

But before we get to that...how about a recipe? We have chili and cornbread every year on Halloween. We eat it as we sit out on the porch and hand out candy to the hundreds (seriously...hundreds) of trick-or-treaters we get each year. (I estimate that we had somewhere between 400 and 500 kiddos on our doorstep last night.)

Each year, I tweak the recipe just a little bit. I just can't leave any recipe alone -- even tried and true ones. This year wasn't any different. However, I made one change that we'll be sticking with. I made it in the CrockPot. Best. Plan. Ever.


Erratic Project Junkie Halloween Chili


2 lb. hamburger
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 green peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Rotel
1 can diced Italian style tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 cans sliced mushrooms
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans Cannelloni beans
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. cumin
Shredded cheese
Sour cream

Brown hamburger in skillet until it loses all pink. Place in CrockPot. 

Heat oil in skillet. Saute peppers, onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until garlic starts to brown. Place in CrockPot.

Add remaining ingredients (excluding cheese and sour cream) to CrockPot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve in bowls with shredded cheese and sour cream.


Now...how about some pumpkins?


Bad Cop


Poor Bad Cop had a rough night. He started out just not being photogenic. Seriously. Awful. He looked better in person, but blech...rough in pictures. Then...his face fell off. Yup. Before assembly was complete, I found his angry grimace on the grass. A little patch with some paper clip pieces and he was almost as good as new.


Then...well...it started raining after the trick-or treaters were gone. This morning, he had taken a full header into the grass. Poor Bad Cop. 


Benny


Benny is my favorite character from the movie. But even he wasn't immune to pumpkin squishiness. You can see that his legs were bowing from the beginning and we had propped him with one of his own lids. 

His leg collapse was nearly devastating for me. But the show must go one. He sunk a little lower to the ground for his debut, but with two pumpkins strong and his trusty "SPACESHIP!" pumpkins in front of him, he was ready for the evening. 




Batman


Na na na na ... Na na na na ... BATMAN!

Batman refused to have a decent picture in the dark. My camera had a small seizure during nighttime photos of Batman, UniKitty, and Benny. I'm not sure why, but I'm sure I did something to my settings while I was distracted with the trick-or-treating hoards that swarmed our sidewalk. All of the pictures came out blurry...even those taken with a tripod. Bummer. Still...the caped crusader made a good showing for the evening.


Emmet


Emmet was of course the star of the movie, so I had big plans for him. Big plans that included having two of him...one as a construction worker. That one crashed and burned, so I shifted the display to include only one of the Emmets. Oh well.


The one who did survive was saddled with his Piece of Resistance.


The sagging middle made it through the evening, but not through the overnight rain. I found him this morning with a nearly fully collapsed midsection. He's still standing, but a little lopsided. That piece of resistance may be what's keeping him from being face down in the gravel. Never underestimate the power of the Kragle.


Good Cop


The second of our three coppers was mildly more photogenic than his bad brother. Mildly. Still, I love the way his goofy smile came out.



President Business


Squishy pumpkin syndrome necessitated ol' P. Biz being propped up with an additional dowel. Other than that, he did pretty darned well. The evil is strong in this one...and so is the substructure.



Sharpie Cop


Second to Benny, this one was my favorite. His goofy face was just plain fun to make. I giggled as we put him together. Thankfully, he had little to no problems during construction.



Skeleton Guard


The Skeleton Guard was supposed to be one of the two additional characters supporting President Business and Bad Cop. But...the SWAT Guard got a squishy head before I even carved him, so he wound up in the garbage rather than the yard. Oh well.

The good news is that Skeleton Guard turned out pretty dang good. I particularly love his head. His legs weren't quite as proportional as I wanted them to be, but he withstood the test of time, so I'm pretty happy about that.



UniKitty


UniKitty was another of our reluctant photograph participants. No good night photos exist. However, she was by far the crowd favorite. Early in the evening, two little girls stood at the end of the walk screaming down the street "UniKitty, UniKitty!". It made me smile.


Vitruvius


Vitruvius was one of the most challenging carves for me, simply because of the need to make sure he stayed proportional. Unlike all of the other characters, he was carved start to finish all together: head, middle, and then bottom. Because of this, all three pieces were carved closest to construction and he was pretty solid for display.

Thanks to a sloped base, he still needed a little prop help.



Wildstyle


Wildstyle is another example of one that looked better in person than in photos. You can't see it in these photos, but her jacket is pretty detailed. I posted an "in process" photo of her midsection on Instagram earlier this week.

She also wasn't immune to disaster. You'll notice that the grass below her is all spray painted black. That was due to a last minute substitution. Her bottom section squashed to the ground as we assembled Vitruvius. Because the dowel was already staked in the grass, we had to assemble her slightly differently than the rest. I took the base from the prior planned SWAT guard and used that to rebuild her. But his blue pants just wouldn't do. A quick blast with the black spray paint can and she was ready to go again.



And there you have it! We learned a few lessons this year that we'll carry over to the next year. Each season lets us learn a little more about what makes the pumpkin display work the best. We look forward to the happiness on our trick-or-treater's faces each year.

Want to see past years' photos? No worries!





Happy belated Halloween!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Haunted for Your House

After two weeks and an unfortunate debacle with spray paint, I've finally managed to finish up some seasonal craft projects. Believe it or not, there are actually FOUR new things made for around the house. Since I decorate my house for Halloween and then separately for fall/Thanksgiving beginning on November 1st, I've separated the projects into two posts of two projects each. Handy.

I will be straight with you on these ones...not a single one of these projects started in my own little brain. Nope. Through the wonders of Pinterest, I found some great ideas that allowed me to create some projects of my own. So...while I'm sharing my results, I'm still going to be letting you know where I found the original ideas. I love Pinterest.

I originally started putting these things together for two reasons:

#1 - I needed to do some crafting that didn't involve cutting tiny pieces of felt for hand puppets. I currently have two sets of them in progress and I was getting a little fed up with all the teeny tiny clippings. So I left it for now.

#2 - I can always use more Halloween decorations. Plus, my fall/Thanksgiving stash is pretty small. That needed to change.

Then I happened on another great reason: a way to distract me away from having to put up the Bat Mobile (I still love calling it that).


Last year, I put it up wrong and tied my strings to the chandelier so that they had to be cut down instead of just being able to lift them off. Dumb. So this year I'm going to have to restring everything before I stand precariously on the ladder in our foyer to put them up. October 16th and the bats are still sitting on the dining room table instead of being hung. I'll get to them...promise...

The good news is that my laziness means projects for you to see!

Ready?

Both of these projects were done on leftover cabinet shelving that I had laying around the garage. I spray painted them and then ModPodged cardstock lettering. I would've used vinyl, but my stash is sadly low. This wasn't too much more difficult, just a little messier since I had to put the ModPodge on each piece rather than just sticking down a piece of adhesive vinyl.

Once that dried, I coated with a layer of ModPodge and let it cure over night. One last blast with a coat of clear coat and they were all done.


Project #1 : "Happy Haunting" Sign based on this one seen over at Sherri's Jubilee.


I tracked down a couple of clip art pieces for the broom and cat and cut them out using my Pazzle (a locally made version of a Cricut or Silhouette).


Project #2 : Cute creepy sign based on this Etsy shop item from Country Workshop. (You should go check out her stuff...it's really cute.)


The spray paint "incident" left some rough patches over the top. I was going to sand them back down and repaint, but decided that it looked like spiderwebs and added to the piece. I distress painted over these areas with white acrylic paint, coating the area and then wiping the excess off with a cotton ball to leave a wispy area behind. (It looks better in person...it came out a little odd in the picture.)

After that, I added on the lettering and continued with the work.

Tada! Two more pieces in my crazy Halloween decor collection. Now...I just need more surfaces to sit them on...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's a Hodgepodge Kind of Day...but mostly...PUMPKINS!

Let's talk Halloween...and (of course) pumpkins.


The last couple of days have not been project friendly. I've been working on a pile of Halloween and fall themed projects to share, but ran into a snag on Tuesday night. Apparently, I am impatient. (I know, right? Who knew?) When you spray a second coat of spray paint over a not quite dry layer, bad things happen. And then there is cursing, much cursing.

This is where I sat as of last night. I needed to sand and paint the second coat (on two separate pieces, mind you), but I totally lacked the energy. So instead, I sat down and watched the rest of the final season of How I Met Your Mother. It was lovely. Oh...and I cried. Drat.

Then I received a little bit of a pick me up. I was getting ready to shut down for the night, but took a quick detour to Facebook. It was there that I found Erin had tagged me in a post. It was a pumpkin post, but I didn't think anything of it at first. I love pumpkins and everyone knows it, so my friends frequently tag me in stuff they think I'll like.

I clicked over.

Imagine my surprise to find that our very first pumpkin display (from way back in 2011) had been selected as one of the "17 Insanely Creative Pumpkin Carvings That Will Blow Your Mind" over at Can You Actually. Three years later, this crazy bit of fun is still cruising around the web. I love it.


Planning is still heavily underway for this year's theme of The LEGO Movie. I need to start picking up pumpkins over the next week so that I can decide just how big scale we get to go. We'll have at least 28 pumpkins to work with, but if the budget allows then we'll have a few more sprouting up in the design. (I have too many ideas...if only there were unlimited funds for this fun.)


For now though, how about a few answers to the most popular questions about our Halloween displays?

Ready?


1. By far the biggest question...how much does this cost you?

The total varies a little bit from year to year, but we try to keep things within reason. The average expense for the whole display is around $50. I shop for the deals on the pumpkins and typically don't pay more than $0.13 per pound. Last year, we only paid $20. I got some from my aunt and uncle's place, some from my own yard, and then made a spanking deal with one of the local farms and got 20 pumpkins for $20.


Beyond pumpkins, we do have some miscellaneous supply costs each year. This includes the dowels to construct the pumpkin characters in the yard, spray paint for special coloring, and miscellaneous pieces and parts. These pieces typically get recycled from year to year. (The spray paint often gets used for other projects throughout the year...like the three currently sitting in my garage waiting for a sanding.) This year we'll have a small additional expense ($15-20) for a few upgrades we're taking on, but they should last us several years. Totally worth it.


2. How long does the carving take you?

The preparation and assembly typically takes about a week. I start gutting pumpkins around 5-6 days prior to the big event. Before that, we're usually working on non-perishable parts. Once pumpkins are gutted, I draw all of my faces/body parts/etc. for carving. I typically don't start cutting until the majority of this is done. The longer I can wait to cut into them, the better they look on Halloween night. Each individual carving can take as little as twenty minutes to nearly two hours. Remember Jack? He took a long time.



3. How do you keep the pumpkins looking good?

Like I said earlier, I minimize the aging of my pumpkins by carving them as close to Halloween as possible. However, we always like them to stay looking good for a few days after so any stragglers can come by and see them. To do this, I'm a firm believer in petroleum jelly. I've tried a few things over the years, but this seems to work best. I coat any exposed surfaces (inside and out) with the jelly. If the pumpkin isn't going up in the yard just yet, I try to keep it wrapped in a garbage sack afterwards to minimize air exposure. Typically, I reapply the petroleum jelly as needed every other day or so. Our pumpkins usually look pretty good for about 7-10 days. After that, things start to sag and wilt.


4. How do you choose the themes?

It's all pretty random. The first year was just because of an obsessive love of the Calvin and Hobbes snowmen comics. After that, we took to polling family and friends. The second year was a suggestion from Katherine at my office. Last year was my choosing, just because. This year...well...we just really like The LEGO Movie. Darian is obsessed with LEGOs and I got the added bonus of getting the song from the movie stuck in my sister-in-law's head for a few days, so that was fun.


5. Does this increase your trick-or-treater volume?

We've seen a small increase in trick or treating at our house, but nothing major. Our street stays pretty busy since we seem to get kids bussed in from all over the area. In a typical year, we go through about 4-5 of the large bags of candy from Costco. It can get a bit nuts.


6. What do your neighbors think?

Our neighbors actually love it. The first year, the neighbors across the street came over to tell me that I shouldn't expect them to keep up with us. Since then, they all come over to check out the progress on the days leading up to the big reveal and they all stop by on Halloween night. This year, we have some new neighbors who moved into crazy neighbor's old house, so we'll see what they think. They're pretty awesome, so I think they'll enjoy it.


7. Why do you do this?

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Seriously, I love it. More than Christmas and more than my birthday. I get excited for Halloween beginning in about June. I'm giddy just thinking about it.

It's also the day that Collin and I had our first date...now eight years ago. We love doing this as a family and it's really fun to see it all come together. It's nice to have family members who enjoy it as much as I do. I'd probably do it even if we only had a small handful of trick-or-treaters each year. I just enjoy it so much.


And now that I'm totally psyched about Halloween, I'll get back on the horse and finish up some of those projects tonight. The work day needs to go quickly. I'm ready to get my craft on!

Do you have any questions about our pumpkin carving craziness? I'm happy to answer them. Oh, except revealing more about this year's plan. That...well...that you have to wait for.

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