DIY Pumpkin Pi

Hello all! I thought I’d switch things up and post a little how-to for everyone for a project I did this weekend. Behold! Pumpkin pi!

A craft pumpkin has fall silk flowers on top and the pi symbol carved into the front.

Oh my god, I am the dumbest. But how can I resist a pun like this?!

This was fun and easy to make. Let’s talk supplies.

A picture of a workbench with various tools and a stencil of a pi symbol.

Tools:

  • One craft pumpkin (we opted for the kind with the back pre-cut out)
  • A printed picture of the pi symbol (here’s one from Wikimedia! I resized it in Word)
  • Pins, like sewing pins
  • A pen
  • A sharp tool like an x-acto knife
  • One LED tea light (those craft pumpkins are WAY flammable)

Extra Credit:

  • Seasonal fake flowers/foliage
  • Ribbon
  • A wire cutter
  • Hot glue, zip ties, etc.
  • Maybe a drill!

 

Here’s the step by step for creating your own pumpkin pi!

A craft pumpkin with an open back sits on a workbench. Crafting materials surround it.

1. Print our your pi symbol after looking at your pumpkin and getting an idea of how tall you want that guy. My pumpkin was a medium size so my pi symbol is about 4.5″ tall. Snip around the pi symbol, cutting in some relief cuts (see picture below) since the pumpkin is slightly curved. Just makes the next step easier.

2. Position the pi symbol on the front of your pumpkin. Use a pin and press it into the craft pumpkin. You don’t need to worry about pressing the pin all the way inside. We just want it to produce a hole on the surface of the pumpkin. So maybe a third of the pin needs to be pressed in?

3. Start pushing in pins all around the pi symbol. You want to get a good outline going.

4. Once you’re sure you have the symbol totally outlined… pull them out. I know. It sounds crazy. Then remove the paper from the pumpkin. Here’s a photo of my pi symbol once I took the pins out.A pi symbol printed on paper with tiny dots outlining it.

See the holes? The holes create a “connect the dots” on your pumpkin.

5. Connect those dots! I used a ballpoint pen and just drew on the pumpkin. Nothing fancy there.

6. You should see a clear outline of a pi symbol on the surface of your pumpkin. Get your x-acto knife and carefully (CAREFULLY) start scoring the pumpkin along the outline you’ve traced. Work slowly. We worked best by scoring an inch or so before cutting in deeper to the pumpkin. The wall of the pumpkin was about 1/4″ thick, so be mindful of that, and don’t press too hard. You don’t want to bust off that middle part or break it.

7. Work around the symbol until you’ve free it! The edges may need some cleaning up so shave them down with your x-acto knife.

8. Put that LED tea light inside and enjoy!

EXTRA CREDIT:

I decided to arrange some fake flowers on the top with a nice green bow. This is more free form. GO FOR IT! but I’ll share some tips.

-Hot glue is your friend.

-So is a drill and a gentle hand! We bundled together the stems of the flowers and zip tied them together. We drilled a hole into the pumpkin’s stem very, very slowly (using a pilot hole) and once it was cleared we pushed the flowers through.

-The bow was zip tied to the flowers.

-Honestly, you could probably get away with just glueing a bow or flowers to it and not that fancy drill stuff. But if you want to try that, make sure you’re far enough down that you don’t just bust off the top of the stem.

-But heck – if you do, glue a flower on top! CRAFTING!

A craft pumpkin with a glowing pi symbol.

YOU DID IT. YOU MADE A FESTIVE, SEASONAL PUN THAT WILL DELIGHT AND IMPRESS! (Maybe!) CONGRATS!

Advertisements

I was a trash bag raisin.

As a long time semi-professional candyologist, I have always been a big fan of Halloween. Filling a pillowcase with FREE CANDY?! WHAT COULD BE BETTER. Wait – we’re dressed up while we do it?! YES!

I do recall being excited about the costumes, especially when we could wear them to school, but I can’t really remember any of mine. I know at one point I was a princess with that plastic princess mask. At my parents’ place there’s probably a series of three photos pertaining to that: 1. I’m in a pretty princess dress and the mask on my face, 2. I’ve taken the mask off my face because it’s hot and uncomfortable and I’m now wearing it like a hat 3. I’m crying because the elastic broke and my mask has fallen off.

Other than that, I don’t really remember any others costumes…well. Except the raisin. I remember being a California Raisin. If you could call it a Halloween “costume”.

I was probably about five or six, which put us at the end of the 80s. There were probably lots of hot costumes for boys: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, Alf… We likely didn’t have a lot of money, so those high dollar name brand costumes were out of our price range. If we had opted to do something like them, we would have probably been some off brand characters like Super Transformed Samurai Tortoises, Skymanbat, and Dorf.

My brother probably cried about having some lame knockoff costume. I probably cried because I didn’t want to be a princess uh-gain. So my mom had two kids who needed to have costumes to go Trick Or Treating and was just about at her wits end.

I’m not sure if she read about it in a magazine or perhaps saw a commercial on TV and was divinely inspired… But soon my brother and I would be transformed into… California Raisins.

Here’s a refresher if you didn’t live in or remember the late 80s/early 90s:

The California Raisins were a claymation R&B group that started with a commercial (for raisins) that captured people’s hearts. It grew into bigger and more elaborate commercials, albums with R&B songs, and I seem to recall watching a TV special with the Raisins. There were toys, too. I’m pretty sure I had a dancing raisin and an FM/AM radio housed in the body of a raisin. They were a big deal.

My mom got the idea to take trash bags, cut out leg and arm holes, fill them with newspaper, and to give us white gloves and sunglasses.

Yes, my brother and I were trash bag raisins.

I have no photos of this, dear reader, but instead I have elected to recreate this for you as an ‘It’s Casual Friday’ exclusive.

californiaraisintrashbag

I know that’s a lot to take in. Give yourself a moment if you need it.

Now, understand, I was not a popular child. And when I went to school dressed like this, there was a slight issue. Not one made readily apparent in the photo above. You see, raisins start as grapes, but as they dry they take on a dark brownish hue. My mother, wanting to be accurate (but also likely because they were on hand), used these blackish brown trash bags for the costumes. She stuffed mine full of newspaper and sent me to school.

When the children had to guess my costume, they did not guess that I was a raisin. No.

They guessed I was a poop.

With sunglasses and white gloves.

I can just remember bawling and crying, “I’m not!! I’m a California Raisin!” over and over. Not even candy could fix this injustice. From then on, I hated the California Raisins. I gave away my toys. I howled when they were on the TV. I actually buried the memory of this incident pretty deep, until a coworker was talking about bad Halloween costumes. Then it all came flooding back. Maybe those other forgotten costumes have residual traumas attached as well.

californiaraisingigglefit

I do look rather raisin-y there. Happy Halloween, everybody.

It’s Halloween, it’s Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I wanted to share with you the strange and weird story of the band The Shaggs.

The Shaggs was comprised of three teenage sisters, formed in 1969 when their father sunk his savings into recording an album with them because his mother saw it in a dream. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, this is true. The girls were not musicians by any stretch of the imagination, and this is apparent in the album’s content (despite money and time spent on practice and music lessons). Here’s the title track from their album, “Philosophy of the World”. Note: I did not say anything like “hit song” or “award winning”.

There is a little bit of charming drumming in there! A little. But… yeaaaah. Not great. It’s really remarkable that something so bad would float to the surface like this some 40+ years later. (The internet strikes again.) I found out about the band from a friend who was going to college at the Boston Conservatory. The music was a novelty, sure, but especially so to the gifted and talented students attending there.

One could probably find something inspirational to take from the strange circumstances surrounding the band and their music. Perseverance? A deeper understanding of what art can mean and the forms it will take? The innocence of childhood and the meaning of family? …maybe. Or maybe it’s just worth saying that sometimes things are so bad they loop right back around to being good.

So I leave you on this spooky holiday with their song, “It’s Halloween”. Depending on your view, it could be a frightful addition to your Halloween festivities… or something better left on the weird blog you found it on. Enjoy.

Musings about religion from a Church.

My fascination with religion started at an early age. We never had religion in our family. The closest we would ever get to a discussion about religion would be one day in my teens when I asked my mother what we were. “Catholic, of course.” she answered, like she was confirming what day of the week it was. This was troubling to me, as my understanding of Catholicism was that at the bare minimum one needed to be baptized. None of us had been. We didn’t have a church. We never even said grace or prayed. “Look, Lauren, we’re Catholic, okay?”

By virtue of my friends I was able to shop around different religions. Episcopalians. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jewish. Catholic (real ones, not like us). Christians. Pagans. I always tagged along to different services, but nothing ever absorbed. I was always an outsider to it, observing. It was never coming from a place of skepticism… I just thought they were stories. Stories that helped people make sense of life.

This may stem from my earliest encounter with religion. This time of year always makes me think of it. I was in kindergarten and our teacher Mrs. Ritchey had asked us to bring in our favorite Halloween books to read for story time. I had one called The Three Little Witches.

The Three Little Witches was a simple story. The plot was the three witches wanted to make a stew. They flew around looking for ingredients, located them, and made the soup in a cauldron with a touch of magic (for flavor). Simple story. Not quite Halloween, but my teacher didn’t mind.

In the days leading up to Halloween she’d pick a book and read it to the class. I’d sit near my best friend at the time, tiny blond girl. I don’t remember tiny blond girl’s name, but we were good friends… until my book was read aloud.

You see, tiny blond girl’s mother decided to come to class that day. And tiny blond girl’s mother threw a fit when she heard the story of witches and their witchcraft. Shortly after it began, she shrieked about “this filth”. She grabbed the book and demanded to know who brought it. I raised my hand. Soon she was carting me off to the principal’s office with tiny blond girl and my book. I can’t recall where the teacher was, maybe behind us? But I was in tears. I could not understand what was wrong.

Tiny blond girl’s mother yelled at the principal. She talked about witchcraft and said I was a wicked child, bringing books about devil worship to school. I bawled. I can still remember her pointing her finger at me as I sat in my chair and felt small and confused. Tiny blond girl was crying too. She wouldn’t look at me. Her mother had hold of her hand and wouldn’t let her go. She shook the book with her free hand. I don’t remember a lot from being that young, but these images are still vivid in my mind.

The principal agreed with Mrs. Ritchey and really didn’t see the harm in the book. The mother hissed about how we were godless and how her daughter wouldn’t attend school to learn about devil worshiping and witches and magic.

My mother was called and I was picked up from school. I never got my book back. And I lost my friend, too. My mother explained that their family was very religious and I couldn’t talk to that girl anymore. I would remember seeing her for awhile after the incident, but we’d never really spoken again.

As I would reflect on the incident later, I can understand why she was angry. I understood that the book conflicted with her beliefs. But why yell at me? Why the ire directed at a child, innocent and uneducated like so many people in religious texts, who have so much to learn? It was fascinating to see someone so encapsulated by their faith that they bordered on fanaticism.

So I have taken the perspective to be an observer over these years, not falling into any particular category myself. Funny coincidence, for someone who took the last name of Church. I find myself not drawn into to any particular flavor of religion. I just don’t feel that strongly about it, and frankly, I can’t commit because I can’t say definitively that I know the truth to the mysteries of the universe. I might be wrong… and I’m 100% okay with that.