After my rather non-eventful Thanksgiving, I found myself facing the cavernous space of a largely open weekend. My two little darlings were at their dads, and the hubs was taking my stepsons to see their grandparents. Except for a brief rehearsal Sunday morning, I had nothing in front of me.
OK. Don’t get me wrong. I do love my family. Most of the time. Usually. But when you’re a parent, you really come to appreciate having the house all to yourself on the rare occasions it actually happens.
So I grabbed the TV remote and prepped for a long-overdue recliner sesh complete with hot coffee and trashy TV. But when I headed to the kitchen to score an accompanying nosh, I spotted this:
Oh, yeah….the pumpkin.
Maaaayyyyyybe I should be getting around to…doing something with this thing.
I should explain – I never intended to HAVE a pumpkin. But for years I’ve participated in a crop-share, and sometimes you get some rather unexpected items. As a result of my weekly veggie boxes, I can use the word kohlrabi in a sentence, I’ve learned how to make pickles, and I’ve discovered several delicious ways to cook turnips. (Really. Cube them and roast them, then mash with either winter squash, sweet potatoes, or russets. You’re welcome.)
So I hadn’t gone out and bought this thing on purpose. (Can you imagine lugging that sucker home in a plastic grocery bag? It’d cut off the circulation in your pinkies faster than a haul of 2-liter sodas and cat litter.) It just appeared next to my CSA delivery in mid-October. I rolled it home and shoved it into my pantry, and let Halloween AND Thanksgiving roll by while I largely ignored it.
Pumpkins don’t last forever, though, and I knew that the clock was ticking on this one. Plus, I hate, hate, HATE throwing food away. The thought of “wasting” something totally sets off my anxiety (I even addressed it in therapy. Once. I can DO it, but I still don’t like it very much.)
So, with an entire day (and no witnesses) in front of me , I decided to tackle my propensity for procrastination AND my deficient crafting gene and get my carve on.
I wash the pumpkin (logical next step, right? I mean, if you’re going to face a project like this, and you’re me, you have good odds of embedding a blade somewhere in a hand, foot, or left buttcheek. I’m up-to-date on my tetanus shots, but best to scrub off any residual fertilizer just in case.)
I stare at it. I’ve carved pumpkins, before, of course. Like, a million years ago when the kids were little.
Literally the last time I attempted a pumpkinectomy was 2005. ELEVEN YEARS AGO.
What I remember about this process: pumpkin-carving sounds like a really engaging family activity at the onset…but after about five minutes of wrist-cramping, digit-threatening knife moves, the whole thing deteriorates into a clumsy, slippery, why-on-earth-did-I-think-this-was-fun chore that you just.want.to.be.DONE.with. (And how exactly did pumpkin entrails get stuck on the ceiling??)
<sigh> Sounds like a party.
So whatever I decided to do was gonna have to be pretty dang simple. And it wouldn’t hurt to have something at least quasi-seasonally appropriate. I did have my tree up, after all:
Hey, if my tree topper can sport an MG08/15, then Christmas pumpkin it is. Why not?
I called out to the hubs, who was running around packing up the car with all the electronics the boys would need to stay entertained at Grandma’s house. (They’d be there a full day and a half, ya know, so best to pack up the Xbox AND the Playstation AND a couple of laptops. Being the stepmom, I don’t get much of a say in that, so whatever. Not my circus, not my monkeys.)
Anyway, I need some paint.
Me: “Hey hon…do we have any Christmas-appropriate paint?” He had to have something – in addition to collecting cardboard boxes, he also keeps a variety of paints around, just in case he gets a hankering to play with his airbrushing tools or his 3D printer. (Aaaaand now we see where his boys get it.) I’d complain, but I have to admit it does come in handy when you suddenly have to do a project like RIGHT NOW.
Hubs: “I’m sure I do. What kind of paint?”
Me (confused. Kind? The colored kind. ???): “Um…the kind that…goes on, like, walls and crafts and stuff.”
Hubs: (gamely trying again): “Well, what are you using it for?”
Me: “To carve this pumpkin.” (Obviously.)
Fortunately, the hubs is used to me pretty much not making sense, so he rummages around in the basement and unearths two cans of spray paint – one red and one green. That’ll do!
I hop on the interwebs to find a simple Christmas design. I know I can’t draw, but I can trace. Maybe a stencil?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA no. Pretty, but no. This is more my speed:
And then I found this:
It’s pretty much one long line. And not even a straight line, which I can’t cut anyway. PERFECT.
But I wasn’t happy with the star, so I found this one to use instead:
I printed these out, and traced them onto coffee filters. (Which are perfect for not only tracing crap, but ALSO for making snowflakes, because in addition to being really thin paper that’s easy to cut, they’re also ALREADY ROUND. Try it.)
I dig some double-sided tape out of the junk drawer. Pro tip: double-sided tape + coffee filters = not very forgiving. But, after some colorful language, I got there:
Okay. Looks doable.
<deep breath> Knife time!
In case you’ve forgotten how slimy pumpkin guts are….let me remind you. Each of the eleventy-kajillion seeds are attached to what looks like internal pumpkin hair. <shudder> I grab an ice-cream scoop, and, after some vigorous scooping, use a razor blade to “shave” the insides a bit. It helps:
Now for the fun part. I trace the entire stencil with a razor blade, and follow it with a marker so I can see where to hack. This leaves me feeling like some sort of odd-duck vegetation tattoo artist. Empowering, in a basement-creeper sort of way.
I begin work on the star, which because of the intricate, teeny tiny points, takes me approximately fifteen @#$(@#$@ years to complete. (Give or take.) I find, in the hubs’ stash, a surgical scalpel (because doesn’t every hoarder have one?) and channel my inner Dexter as I scrape and pick out every fussy little corner.
Whose idea was this again?
Thankfully, once I start on the tree part, it goes much faster.
I keep plugging away. After the tree is cut, I grab a screw hook and drive several holes into the gourd to make stars:
Hey. That’s not half bad.
Now for spray paint. I take the whole mess outside and, after a few tentative squirts, go to town:
YAY! Let’s light it!!!
Oh…wait. I read the label on the can (because it would have been really amateurish to do that BEFORE I started shooting paint everywhere):
Dries to touch in 15-30 minutes; 60 minutes to handle
SIXTY MINUTES?!?! I have to wait AN HOUR??? @#($@#$#@$
Reluctantly, I go inside and clean my kitchen. Most of the squash innards are confined to the kitchen table and floor (and yeah, the walls, but just two and just a little.)
Oh, and I’d better deal with these, I guess.
I read somewhere that pumpkin seeds float, so I filled the bowl with water and just sort of mushed the sludge to the bottom, which made fairly short work of the mess. Make no mistake – it was still work. But after an hour, I had a clean(ish) kitchen and a lifetime supply of pumpkin seeds for roasting later:
<BEEP BEEP BEEP> That’s the timer. We’re ready to light this shiz UP!
Still decidedly not terrible.
I can’t wait to see it at night. But dark is TWO LONG HOURS AWAY.
What to do…what to do….
I go shopping. (Of course. Because Christmas. Ha, who am I kidding. ‘Tis the season ME ME ME.)
Three hours and two new sweaters later:
Wait. Shut off the porch light, dummy.
Well, whaddya know. I CAN CRAFT!!!!
Sometimes, procrastination pays.
Martha Stewart, eat your heart out.