Monday, October 26, 2009

An End To The Madness

STOP!! exactly what I said to D.J. 10 minutes ago when he trotted into our bedroom, scooped up a giant jar of vaseline from the medicine cabinet, turned on his heel, and headed back toward the kitchen. "Is that for the pumpkin"? I inquired. He confirmed it so....but that little tiny bit of a chemist in me just cannot comprehend how vaseline could preserve a carved pumpkin. So of course, I did what any well educated pumpkin carver would do, I googled it!! Check-out below what we found!! Who in their right mind would take the time to do this experiment? But, THANK YOU crazy pumpkin carver person for your dedication! You can STOP the rubbing of the vaseline madness now and read below.

ps. As I write this, D.J. is on his way to pick up some Chlorox Clean-Up with Bleach

The Great Pumpkin Preservation Study - How To Preserve A Pumpkin Properly

Pumpkin preservation is a topic that I have been asked about endlessly. Since I began this website in 2000, I have been asked over and over how to preserve a pumpkin. From the beginning I had the habit of spraying my pumpkins with WD-40 to keep the bugs away from them.I told other people to use this technique as well. I even published it in my book. Other books mentioned using Vaseline, but I knew that spreading vaseline on every cut surface of your pumpkin as a preservative was ridiculous. Who slops goo all over their pumpkin?Anyway, after 9 years I have decided to launch a complete study of pumpkin preservation methods. Was I giving out good advice? Is there a simple solution out there that will work? Is it easy to apply, commonly found in the home, and does it make your pumpkin last? These were questions that I hoped to answer.I gathered up a collection of possible pumpkin preservatives and a batch of freshly picked pumpkins and went to work.

First, The Pumpkins: I acquired 14 similarly sized pumpkins from my friend's pumpkin farm. Holtz Farm in Ida, Michigan is my regular pumpkin supplier so I was comfortable asking them questions like "Were these all planted on the same day, Are they the same breed? Were they given equal water and pesticide?" You get the picture. I was starting a serious experiment and I didn't plan on tainting the results.

Second, The preservatives: I've been at this a while and I've heard lots of talk about what works and what doesn't. I tried to gather anything that seemed to have even the slimmest chance of working. Here is what I tried (from left to right in any photos): K-Y Jelly, 5% Bleach Solution, WD-40, Clear Spray Paint (clear coat), Wet Platinum Silicone Personal Lubricant, Amonia, A Control (no preservative at all), Vaseline, Hair Spray, Honda Spray Polish (automotive spray polish), Chlorox Clean-up (with Bleach), Furniture Polish, Vinegar, My Son looking like a badass, and finally, Not Carving the Pumpkin In The First Place.

Here is how it went down:Carving the pumpkins took the longest amount of time. I used a coffee can as a template for the top opening, that way it would be the same size on each pumpkin. I then gutted each pumpkin until it was clean and reintroduced 12 pumpkin seeds (these would allow squirrels and other pests to retain equal interest in each pumpkin). I cut the eyes, nose and mouth with the same size holes by using the same paddle drill bit on each pumpkin. I carved all of the pumpkin in assembly-line fashion so that no pumpkin was left carved longer than the other. The process took approximately 4 hours.

I applied preservatives just after the completion of carving. Preservative was applied to every cut or scraped surface and the entire interior of the pumpkin. For the sprayable materials this step occurred without incident. The products that needed to be spread by hand proved to be more problematic, especially the Vaseline.Spreadable Products: At this stage of the study, I already had one suggestion. Don't use any preservative that cannot be sprayed on a pumpkin. K-Y and Wet Platinum Silicone Lubricant, although rumored to do a great job were almost impossible to apply. These involved pouring this lube on my hand and then massaging it onto the pumpkin. Neither I nor the pumpkin appeared to enjoy this.Vaseline Petroleum Jelly was an even bigger pain in the posterior. I began with enthusiasm because many other works on pumpkin carving suggest vaseline as a pumpkin preservative. I plunged my hand into the tub of vaseline and emerged with a walnut sized stream of it. I then started rubbing it on the pumpkin which was fairly difficult. The Vaseline wanted to stay on my hand and did not seem too interested in evenly coating the pumpkin. It was like painting a comb with peanut butter. Then, when I had used up my first glob of jelly, I went to get more from the tub and upon putting my hand back into the jar I ruined its entire contents. Pumpkin guts were left behind in the vaseline jar. So long Vaseline. It is amazing that anyone every suggested you in the first place and a crime that the lie was perpetuated. I am very happy to end your reign as a suggest pumpkin preservative. Vaseline Stinks At Making Your Pumpkin Last Longer.

36 Hours Later: Checkpoint 1 - A day and a half later I checked on the pumpkin lineup to see any initial issues and found two: The Clear Coat Spray Painted Pumpkin cracked. I guess the lack of ability to let moisture in and out of its skin did it in. Clear Coat was off the list, I would extrapolate that shelac, Polyeurethane and other furniture finishes probably fall into this category as well.Vinegar attracted flies. Apparently, the flies must have though my pumpkin study was some sort of delicious pickle bar. They really enjoyed the Vinegar coated pumpkin. Ick.

84 Hours After Carving: Checkpoint 2 - The first specks of mold had started to form. Some pumpkins have more (the control (no preservative at all), the hair spray, and the vinegar) all have spots larger than the diameter of a pencil. Squirrels have eaten their way into the Vaseline, Vinegar, and furniture polish pumpkins. The Clear Coat pumpkin and the amonia pumpkin are starting to get mushy already. They are noticeably further ahead in the rotting process.

6 1/2 Days After Carving: Checkpoint 3 - I was away doing some publicity, and I would have liked to have done another checkpoint before this one, but the results were interesting. Heavy, fuzzy mold had formed on all but 3 pumpkins. The WD-40 and the 5% bleach solution pumpkins have only slight molding. Some pumpkins have started to go soft in large areas: Amonia, Control, Vaseline, Vinegar, K-Y Jelly, Wet Silicone Personal lubricant, WD-40, 5% Bleach, Hair Spray, Honda Spray Polish (automotive spray polish), and furniture polish pumpkins are all going mushy. Vinegar, Clear Coat, and Amonia pumpkins have actually all caved in. The uncarved pumpkin is completely normal, no ill effects whatsoever.

8 1/2 Days After Carving: Checkpoint 4 - The correct preservation product is clearly the Chlorox Cleanup With Bleach. The Chlorox pumpkin has less mold and rot than any other pumpkin. A couple of pumpkins have less mold than average, but the Chlorox Cleanup With Bleach has less rot as well. It hasn't lasted as well as the uncarved pumpkin, but it is superior to the other products.

10 1/2 Days After Carving: Checkpoint 5 - I am going to discontinue the study here. The pumpkins are stinking up the yard and the flies are getting out of control.

I will make one final conclusion: Preserving your pumpkin with Chlorox Cleanup will help keep mold and squirrels away and will allow it to last approximately twice as long as using no preservative. Chlorox Cleanup With Bleach also had no noticeable affect on the color or appearance of the pumpkin. Conclusion: I suggest you preserve you pumpkin with Chlorox Cleanup With Bleach. It will last about twice as long than it would without any preservative

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Mommy Paparazzi...

...strike again.


check out my Facebook page for more!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Have An Addiction...

and it needs no words....

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The 30 yr Old Angel

Each year on my birthday, there was always one thing that I could always count on...that one of these porcelain little ladies above would be neatly boxed up and wrapped just waiting for me to open. As I got older, as soon as I laid eyes on that one present...the perfectly wrapped box that each year got bigger and bigger, I knew exactly what was waiting inside. Quite honestly, I was always much more concerned with whatever else lay inside all of the other boxes....and most years, she was opened last with a sigh, after all of my other birthday present options had been thoroughly exhausted.

But over all of those years, after all of those presents, the angels are the ones I now treasure the most. I have 22 of these angels!! She starts as a new baby and goes to 21...each year she's posing differently, holding tight to something new and growing. The pics above don't show her size difference, but each year she gets bigger and bigger...just like the young recipient. A few years ago, my mom boxed all my girls up and handed them over and when Anna was born, I started our own tradition.

When I came home from the hospital after Anna was born, I dug out my "new baby" angel, the first of the set, and displayed her in Anna's room. And when Anna turned 1, together we put the "new baby" angel back in the box and found the "1" angel, took her upstairs and found her a nice little home in Anna's room. And just a couple months ago when Anna turned 3, together we took the "2" angel down to the box and found the "3" angel. She was so delighted and loved her new "3" angel...just one more affirmation that she's now a big girl!! I did the exact same when Josie was born, found my "new baby" angel and so on.

Can you believe that I recently saw my angels for purchase in my favorite ridiculously overpriced on-line/catalog baby boutique? I pulled the pics above straight off the website!! They are the exact same!!! My mother must have purchased my "1" angel 30 years ago...and the "1" angel you can buy at Chasing Fireflies right HERE is the EXACT same little lady. But, I love that the ones in my girls' rooms were actually mine, and then given to Anna and then to Josie. Thanks mom for such a priceless tradition.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

What She Doesn't Know

Anna Jane: it's amazing what she's knows....but what she doesn't know is even more amazing. This morning, like most mornings, I was putting on my make-up with Anna sitting next to me sifting through my creams and powders. She so much wants to be a big girl...all of the glossies and sparkles seem to just fascinate her. But, when I took the cap off of my foundation stick, it had the markings of a curious little girl all over it. It was gouged and smeared and pretty much useless. I immediately turned to Anna and asked her if she had been playing with my make-up and for the first time that I'm aware of, her little imagination concocted the most intricate tall tale of how my make-up had been destroyed.

She looked me square and the eye and proceeded to tell me that Josephine had gotten out of her crib in the middle of the night, had come into our bathroom and somehow with her magical super baby powers figured out how to out-smart the kiddie proof cabinet locks. According to Anna, she then went right for my make-up bag, took out this foundation stick and massacred it. Now, of course I know this didn't happen....when Josie's awake, I'm on her like flies on poo and I'm such a lite sleeper in the middle of the night I would seriously wake up if a fly sneezed let alone one of my children tore my bathroom apart. Also, this little story would then need to conclude with Josie putting all of these items back, somehow waddling back up to her room and climbing the rails of her crib to get herself back into bed. Uh huh, yea.

So what do you do? The following is a line from the book "The Secret Lives Of Toddlers"...Having a heart to heart with your toddler about the shamefulness and moral weakness of lying is about as good a use of your time as talking quantum physics ...hahaha...i think that says it all.

Also, someone recently told me that when toddlers begin telling little white lies that it's actually a good thing. That it means that they're cognitive capabilities are expanding and that they are beginning to understand depth of thought and consciousness...Nicole, did you tell me that? I can't remember and I'm no pro at this toddler business, so I have no idea...

But it got me thinking about how much they know after just 3 VERY short years. But out of nowhere and just as quickly, I started thinking about all of the things she doesn't know....all of the things I NEVER ever want her to know, but I know can only be contained for so long...

Like why some children have no food to eat. Like why we are at war. Why someone laughs at someone elses pain. Why some people are judged based on their race or religion. The fact that devastating accidents happen. That this world is big and not everyone can be trusted. She doesn't know yet that not everyone has a mommy and daddy that love them. She doesn't know yet about loss. She doesn't know that mother nature isn't always kind. She doesn't know that people take the lives of other people..........................But, I know those things simply come with the territory of being human and if we didn't suffer, what kind of world would we live in?...probably one with very little compassion or humanity.

Even so, we want our little ones to live in their innocent worlds for as long as humanely possible. But, sometimes being a parent feels a little like having your heart broken over and over and over again.

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