In this great technological age, our family went online first to find a design for each of our pumpkins. Unfortunately, the boys both went nuts over the designs of pumpkin carving artist Ray Villafane. If you've never seen his work before, here are some amazing examples:
Needless to say, we had to bring the boys back down to Earth about what was possible for us to carve. "Pick something simpler," I told them, "Much simpler!"
Benjamin decided he wanted a Jack O' Lantern with a scary face and Cava wanted one that looked like a spider (for Spiderman, of course!).
Danelle and I cut open the tops and then let the boys clean out the insides. Benjamin went straight to it, thrusting his hand inside, and he delighted in "pulling out the guts."
Cava, on the other hand, was more cautious. First, he pulled off the top . . .
Then he looked inside . . .
Before slowly putting his hand inside with a, "Yuck!"
Pulling the innards out, he said, "I don't like this."
As we cleaned the pumpkins out, I made sure we put aside seeds on a plate so that I could roast them later in the oven.
Once we were done scraping and cleaning, we taped the designs to the exterior of the pumpkins and used a pushpin to poke holes in them so that we would know where to carve out sections.
Here's how the spider pattern looked (the white is flour dusted on it to make the pinholes stand out more):
Then came the carving of the pumpkins!
When Cava saw his spider pumpkin, he loved it. His exact words were, "Really good! Really cool!"
Here are the results of our labor: (Before dark)
(After dark & lit with candles):
Upon seeing them lit, Cava declared, "WOW!"
But would he say the same thing about roasted pumpkin seeds?
That would be the true test.
If there's one thing I can say about Cava, it's that he is willing to try new foods. He even tasted Sushi when we went to a Japanese restaurant.
Normally, when I roast pumpkin seeds, I simply use olive oil and salt, but this year I decided to try something different: cinnamon pumpkin seeds! After baking them and letting the seeds cool off a bit, I let the boys try them.
Cava was the first to come running in.
He grabbed some seeds, popped them into his mouth, and declared, "Yummy! Awesome!"
Benjamin was next. He took one and put it in his mouth.
When he'd eaten it, he also gave his thumbs up and told me, "Amazing!"
It's interesting, but when I was writing this blog entry, I decided to research to see if Ukrainians carved pumpkins. Come to find out, they don't. In fact, it used to be, long ago, that when a young man asked a girl to marry him she would reply by giving him a gift.
If the answer was "Yes," she would give the young man an embroidered towel that she had made and tied it over his hand and a shawl that she'd made she would tie over his shoulders.
But, if the answer was "No," she would give him a pumpkin.
Needless to say, Ukrainian men are not fond of pumpkins.
Ukrainians used to joke that when a pretty girl was born to a family they would tell them, "You need to grow a large pumpkin patch" (meaning the girl would get many offers of marriage).
When I went to tell this to Danelle, she was working with Cava on his latest puzzle. After I told them this former Ukrainian tradition, Cava burst out with, "What??? I'm glad I didn't get my pumpkin that way."
The Ukrainian word for pumpkin is "гарбуз" or "harbuz."