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Happy day after Halloween everyone!
Around here, Halloween is our favorite holiday. Pumpkins are a way of life. This year though...well...it was a little rougher than the past few. It's been unseasonably warm around here and that - coupled with our bagging routine and the fact that we started a little earlier due to the sheer number of carvings - resulted in some pumpkin squishiness that we've been able to avoid in the past.
Because of that, we ended up scrapping two characters who had pieces collapse during construction (a construction version of Emmet and a SWAT guard). Additionally, our poor spaceman Benny lost his legs before we saw any trick-or-treaters. One of the only pictures that exists of him in full form is pictured above, taken a mere two minutes before I heard the unmistakable sounds of squishy pumpkin destruction. The loss of pumpkins was a first for us, but we powered through.
If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, then you had sneak peeks throughout the week and a few previews yesterday of the pumpkin display. Today I'll be sharing photos of each character...though some were more photogenic than others.
But before we get to that...how about a recipe? We have chili and cornbread every year on Halloween. We eat it as we sit out on the porch and hand out candy to the hundreds (seriously...hundreds) of trick-or-treaters we get each year. (I estimate that we had somewhere between 400 and 500 kiddos on our doorstep last night.)
Each year, I tweak the recipe just a little bit. I just can't leave any recipe alone -- even tried and true ones. This year wasn't any different. However, I made one change that we'll be sticking with. I made it in the CrockPot. Best. Plan. Ever.
Erratic Project Junkie Halloween Chili
2 lb. hamburger
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 green peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Rotel
1 can diced Italian style tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 cans sliced mushrooms
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans Cannelloni beans
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. cumin
Brown hamburger in skillet until it loses all pink. Place in CrockPot.
Heat oil in skillet. Saute peppers, onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until garlic starts to brown. Place in CrockPot.
Add remaining ingredients (excluding cheese and sour cream) to CrockPot. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Serve in bowls with shredded cheese and sour cream.
Now...how about some pumpkins?
Poor Bad Cop had a rough night. He started out just not being photogenic. Seriously. Awful. He looked better in person, but blech...rough in pictures. Then...his face fell off. Yup. Before assembly was complete, I found his angry grimace on the grass. A little patch with some paper clip pieces and he was almost as good as new.
Then...well...it started raining after the trick-or treaters were gone. This morning, he had taken a full header into the grass. Poor Bad Cop.
Benny is my favorite character from the movie. But even he wasn't immune to pumpkin squishiness. You can see that his legs were bowing from the beginning and we had propped him with one of his own lids.
His leg collapse was nearly devastating for me. But the show must go one. He sunk a little lower to the ground for his debut, but with two pumpkins strong and his trusty "SPACESHIP!" pumpkins in front of him, he was ready for the evening.
Na na na na ... Na na na na ... BATMAN!
Batman refused to have a decent picture in the dark. My camera had a small seizure during nighttime photos of Batman, UniKitty, and Benny. I'm not sure why, but I'm sure I did something to my settings while I was distracted with the trick-or-treating hoards that swarmed our sidewalk. All of the pictures came out blurry...even those taken with a tripod. Bummer. Still...the caped crusader made a good showing for the evening.
Emmet was of course the star of the movie, so I had big plans for him. Big plans that included having two of him...one as a construction worker. That one crashed and burned, so I shifted the display to include only one of the Emmets. Oh well.
The one who did survive was saddled with his Piece of Resistance.
The sagging middle made it through the evening, but not through the overnight rain. I found him this morning with a nearly fully collapsed midsection. He's still standing, but a little lopsided. That piece of resistance may be what's keeping him from being face down in the gravel. Never underestimate the power of the Kragle.
The second of our three coppers was mildly more photogenic than his bad brother. Mildly. Still, I love the way his goofy smile came out.
Squishy pumpkin syndrome necessitated ol' P. Biz being propped up with an additional dowel. Other than that, he did pretty darned well. The evil is strong in this one...and so is the substructure.
Second to Benny, this one was my favorite. His goofy face was just plain fun to make. I giggled as we put him together. Thankfully, he had little to no problems during construction.
The Skeleton Guard was supposed to be one of the two additional characters supporting President Business and Bad Cop. But...the SWAT Guard got a squishy head before I even carved him, so he wound up in the garbage rather than the yard. Oh well.
The good news is that Skeleton Guard turned out pretty dang good. I particularly love his head. His legs weren't quite as proportional as I wanted them to be, but he withstood the test of time, so I'm pretty happy about that.
UniKitty was another of our reluctant photograph participants. No good night photos exist. However, she was by far the crowd favorite. Early in the evening, two little girls stood at the end of the walk screaming down the street "UniKitty, UniKitty!". It made me smile.
Vitruvius was one of the most challenging carves for me, simply because of the need to make sure he stayed proportional. Unlike all of the other characters, he was carved start to finish all together: head, middle, and then bottom. Because of this, all three pieces were carved closest to construction and he was pretty solid for display.
Thanks to a sloped base, he still needed a little prop help.
Wildstyle is another example of one that looked better in person than in photos. You can't see it in these photos, but her jacket is pretty detailed. I posted an "in process" photo of her midsection on Instagram earlier this week.
She also wasn't immune to disaster. You'll notice that the grass below her is all spray painted black. That was due to a last minute substitution. Her bottom section squashed to the ground as we assembled Vitruvius. Because the dowel was already staked in the grass, we had to assemble her slightly differently than the rest. I took the base from the prior planned SWAT guard and used that to rebuild her. But his blue pants just wouldn't do. A quick blast with the black spray paint can and she was ready to go again.
And there you have it! We learned a few lessons this year that we'll carry over to the next year. Each season lets us learn a little more about what makes the pumpkin display work the best. We look forward to the happiness on our trick-or-treater's faces each year.
Want to see past years' photos? No worries!
Happy belated Halloween!!