Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Carving Just In Time For Halloween

I put pumpkin carving off for too long this year, I should have started at least a week earlier, but I've been so busy.

This year I took a tip from Pumpkin Carving and keyed the lid to my Jack O' Lantern. First I used a crayon to draw the line to follow to make the lid.

Then I used one of the pumpkin carving tools from the Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving Kit to make the lid. When I first tried carving a pumpkin last year, I used a sharp kitchen knife, even though I had bought the Carving Kit, and it didn't take long for me to put aside the knife, and use one of the saws in kit.

This is the second year I've used the same saw kit. I can see how it would be very easy to break a blade, but if you take it easy, these tools can last you through a few pumpkins, at least.

The saw doesn't even need a starter hole, at least I didn't need one. I thrust it right in, and started sawing. I did need to saw along the path twice, then work the saw along the path as I pulled up on the lid. I think I was cutting the strings inside that were holding the lid in place.

Another cool tool in the kit is the scoop. It's simple and plastic, but perfectly designed to scrape the inside of the pumpkin. I forgot how well this worked, I used a metal spoon on the pumpkin I cut up last week. It took at least twice as long with the spoon, and my wrist and arm really ached afterwards.

The kit comes with some really nice patterns to use as carving templates. I took the easiest one, and made a reduced copy to fit the size pumpkin I was using. Just a little tape to hold it in place, and I'm all set.

Well, at least I got it done in time for Halloween, but here's what I really wanted:

Seeds! More than I got from the last pumpkin, even though this was a bit smaller. Too bad I can't get even more from a single pumpkin, but since I can't, I'll have to settle for store bought pumpkin seeds.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn: Fresh Pumpkin Time

Fall is here, and this year I wanted to roast pumpkin seeds. Last year was the first time I had ever carved pumpkins, and loved having fresh roasted pumpkin seeds. When I ran out of pumpkin seeds, I tried roasting melon seeds. Not as satisfying as pumpkin seeds, but still worth a try.

So, this autumn I decided not to waste the first pumpkin as a Jack O' Lantern, and tried making pickled pumpkin. The first pumpkin turned out to be too big, but I didn't realize this until I had enough pumpkin cut up for one batch of pickled pumpkin -- just a quarter of the pumpkin!

I finished cutting the first half of the pumpkin and began blanching what I wasn't going to pickle before deciding to roast the second half before cutting it up. I had seen tips saying to roast the pumpkin before cutting it up, I should have followed those tips in the first place!

It was so much easier to finish cutting up the pumpkin after roasting it, but when I was all done, I had two jars of pickled pumpkin, a batch of roasted pumpkin seeds (much smaller than I had been hoping for) and enough pumpkin for nine pies, assuming two cups per pie.

The next day, my sister agreed to help me make some pumpkin muffins, but we ended up with a batch of pumpkin cupcakes instead, quite good, too. All decorated for Halloween!

I seriously doubt they'll last until Halloween, guess we'll have to make more!

I posted a link to this video on Twitter, and several people thanked me for posting it, if you haven't seen it, here is Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward -- Enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do It Yourself Wireless Backup Camera Installation

A backup camera on whatever type of auto, car, truck, SUV or RV you are driving will help you see what you cannot see with your rear view mirrors. A backup camera can help you avoid hitting another vehicle, running over a pet, or running over a child while in reverse.

Installing the VR3 Wireless Backup Camera is very easy and can be installed on almost any vehicle. The camera does need to connect to the electrical harness for power, but the connection between camera and the monitor, which can sit on your dash, is wireless so you don't need to worry about running a cable to connect the two.

See How:
DIY Auto Backup Camera: How To Install A Backup Camera On Your Car, Truck, SUV, Or RV

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nothing Says Fall like Leaves...

...And A Woodchuck In The Front Yard!

Ain't she cute?

Well, to be honest I can't be sure if it is a she or he. We know there are woodchucks living in the back woods. Almost on a daily basis, we'll see one or two grazing in the back yard. The lawn isn't just grass, there's a lot of stuff that grows wild, but gets mowed into conformity. The woodchucks seem to favor eating something with large leaves that's mixed in the lawn.

The woodchucks are normally satisfied with that, and are rarely in the front, but the lawn isn't growing very fast since the daily temperatures have dropped, so I guess it's getting harder for them to fill up on the stuff out back.

There were rabbits living in the yard, but they haven't been seen this year. In years past we'd see the cat chasing them, but he died earlier this year and he hasn't been replaced. Last year the cat had actually attempted to chase one of the woodchucks, but the woodchuck didn't run like the rabbits do. Instead, it chased after the cat. Didn't chase the cat for long, just long enough to let the cat know not to try that again! :)

Well, as you can probably tell from the picture, even if woodchucks aren't intimidated by cats, this one didn't like me watching her eat, and it didn't take long for her to casually make her exit.

I don't like people watching me eat either!