Musque de Provence “French Cheese” Pumpkins

Did you wonder what happened to these beautiful “French Cheese” pumpkins, I grew in the Community Garden over the Summer? Remember when I photographed them, they were still green and had to grow a little bit more?

Let me go back a little bit. Christi picked up a “French Cheese” pumpkin from a local nursery as Autumn decoration for her house in October 2016. When the season was over, she made pumpkin puree for soups and pies. The seeds got cleaned up and stored for sowing in the following Spring.

Spring 2017 approached, and Christi had about four or five plants from the seeds, she’d been sowing earlier in the year. She asked me, if I liked a couple of plants. “Sure! I love to take a couple!” I said. After I planted the little pumpkin seedlings, I watered them. Christi and I stared at the plants for a moment. “Let’s see, how they will do in the garden.” she wondered. I nodded: “I’ll be excited, if we see pumpkins!”

At the end of Summer, we saw a couple of pumpkins. Each plant produced one squash. I know, that is not much. But I was stoked seeing at least one of each, after we were fighting the squash vine borers all Summer.

In Autumn I decided to clean up the bed and harvest the pumpkins. Christi was a little bit hesitant, because both pumpkins were still more green than orange. I assured: “They will cure for a while and gain their color. I don’t want them to get too ripe, and the critters will have a feast.” She agreed, and I picked the pumpkins.

Now, it is December. And the French Cheese pumpkins gained their color. At this moment, they sit on my couch table next to my little Christmas pine tree. I know, it might look awkward a little bit. But I can’t let go of Autumn, yet. And I want to wait to make pumpkin pie at Yule/Winter Solstice. If the weather is cool enough, I might make a “Curried Pumpkin Soup”.


Musque de Provence “French Cheese” Pumpkins gained their orange color.

My Sugar Skull Pumpkin


This is my first pumpkin, celebrating β€œDΓ­a de los Muertos”. While I was decorating it, I also did some research and learned a lot of new information about the colors. I had to take the greens and blues off the stem, and put some red and yellow around it. Since my marigold (Cempazuchitl) are dead from the slight freeze in October, I used some pot marigold from the backyard garden instead.

  • Purple – Signifies pain, suffering, grief, and mourning
  • Pink – Celebration
  • White – Purity and hope
  • Orange – Sun
  • Red – The blood of life
  • Yellow – Cempazuchitl are marigolds that symbolize death. Petals are used to makeΒ  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  a trail so that the spirits can see the path to their altars.

My first Sugar Skull Pumpkin


All Hallows’ Eve


Katelynn and Sara went to “Trick-or-Treat” with the neighbors kids, while Kevin was giving out candy, and I prepared homemade Sloppy Joes for dinner. After the rainy afternoon, the weather was perfect for the Trick-or-Treaters in the evening. The Moon showed its face through the hazy clouds. My witch scared some little monsters, ghost and goblins. But as soon as they saw the candy bowl, the witch wasn’t so frightening anymore. And the carved pumpkins were admired by some of the parents, again.


How I Carve My “Jack-o-Lanterns” For Halloween Night

The last six Fridays, I posted photos of the pumpkins I have been carving for past Halloween nights. People were admiring my Jack-o-Lanterns and asked, how I carve them. In this blog, I will explain it.

Before I even think about all this carving process, I have to look for the right pumpkin in the store or pumpkin patch. Key points, I’m looking for are:

  • Does the pumpkin have any nicks or bruises?
  • Does the stem look healthy and is not cut too short?
  • Is the pumpkin big enough for what I would like to do with it?
  • Does the pumpkin have a smooth surface?
  • Do I really like the pumpkin or should I keep looking for a better one?

A pumpkin should look healthy. Because it will rot, if it has nicks, bruises or the stem is cut too short. It also should be the right size for the pattern, I have in mind. The pumpkin should be smooth and without warts. Having a bumpy surface makes it harder to apply the stencil and carve the pumpkin. Sometimes, I look at a pumpkin and think: This is not the right one, I just keep looking. Since I start looking for pumpkins in the beginning of October, there is plenty of time to find the perfect one for my project.

Usually on October 30th, I begin to carve pumpkins. This gives me an extra day, in case I’m getting too busy on Halloween. I’ll let you know, how I keep the pumpkins nice and fresh for a day or two, before they have their big day on our front porch.

  • First I gather all my tools, bowls, stencils and of course pumpkins together, before I begin with the carving. A couple of days ago, the girls and I decided on what pattern they like to get carved into their pumpkins.
  • After I opened the pumpkin with a kitchen knife, I get those gooey pumpkin guts out.Β  (Usually I cut it in an angle. The warmth of the candles shrinks it a little bit. And that way it stays on the pumpkin and won’t fall inside of it.) When Katelynn was little, she always helped me and said: “We have to get the pumpkin-yikes out of it, before we can carve the pumpkin!” So cute! She still calls it “pumpkin-yikes”.
  • I always use the scraper to clean the pumpkin from the rest of the stuff, what keeps the seeds in place. With this tool I can thin out the walls a little bit more. If the walls are too thick, the pumpkin is harder to carve. But if they are too thin, they can break easier, while I’m carving. Over the last years I’ve got a better feeling for it, how thick the walls supposed to be. πŸ˜‰
  • The pumpkin is clean inside and wiped down on the outside. Now I can apply the stencil with some Scotch tape, before I use the poker around the lines. Personally I do not recommend to get the stencil wet for a better fitting on the pumpkin surface. It takes forever until the paper is try. I never have the patience to wait for that. AndΒ  poking the holes into wet paper makes a mess, because it will rip faster.
  • As soon as the pattern is poked into the pumpkin, I remove the stencil. I always keep the stencil sitting next to the pumpkin as a reference. Sometimes a hole is not poked perfectly or the holes are too close together. Some people use a crayon or another marker to connect the lines.
    Once the stencil is removed, the carving can begin. A few years ago, I spent a little extra cash to get better carving tools. The tools, they provide with the stencil booklets are good for some carving. But I’ve noticed, I had to re-buy them, because they bent and/or become dull. I love this saw, you can see in the picture. It has a bigger handle as well.
  • My little secret to keep the pumpkins in shape for a couple of days: I soak them with a splash of bleach in ice water. Some people wipe them with vinegar and use some vaseline, to prevent them from molding and drying out. But I’m not a fan of the vinegar smell; and the vaseline just looks messy, if it is not applied correctly.

When the “Jack-o-Lanterns” are still damp from soaking them in water, I lit them with a few tea candles to see, how they look in the dark. Katelynn and Sara can’t wait for Halloween night to get the pumpkins on the porch, and show them to the kids from the neighborhood.

Are you ready for the results? Here are the “Jack-o-Lanterns” of 2017:

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween & Blessed Samhain!


Happy Halloween!

Now in the darkening of the year
the veil between the world wears thin
and those gone on ahead draw near.
In the hours of quiet remembrance
that the waning season brings,
we may feel their whispered presence
like the brush of a gentle wind.

Β Blessed Samhain!


SAMHAIN (The Summer’s End)

Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on October 31st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night.
The most magically potent time of this festival is the night of October 31st, known today of course , as Halloween. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.
In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and brye. The hay that would feed them during the winder must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods.
All the harvest must be gathered in, barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come.
The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. As a feast of the dead, it was believed the dead could, if they wished, return to the land of the living for this one night, to celebrate with their family, tribe, or clan.
Resource: (…)


Song of The Witches


Ceramic gourd in our frontyard garden

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.


Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins (Part VI)

Guess, what day it is?! Yes, it’s Pumpkin-Friday! And we have arrived at the last part of the “Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins” series for this season, today. I can’t believe October went by so fast. Here are the photos of the Jack-o-Lanterns from 2014, 2015 and 2016.