Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This Is Absolutely NOT a Pinterest Tutorial

Years from now, I'd like to be able to look back at this post and think, "I may get lost on my way to the bathroom, but at least I don't spend my time making pumpkin sculptures and stringing donuts." Oh dear, have I lost you already? You might remember that the Baby's school held a fall festival over the weekend for which I had two responsibilities: manning the donut bobbing race (because I love me a good hunk o' fried sugar-dough) and making an auction-worthy project out of pumpkins and recycled material.

I know that you've spent your weekend wondering how all of this turned out: Was the paper maché pumpkin a success? Will you be posting a tutorial of your work on Pinterest? Were there protesters at the donut bobbing race? I mean, who wasn't thinking about these pressing, vital matters this weekend??At the risk of being labeled, "too negative," I have to answer "no" to all three questions.

First, let's talk about the paper maché, AKA the paper trashé. The other room mom was in charge of having the kids help out with this project. We found a picture on Pinterest and checked out the tutorial. The finished product was supposed to look like this:

I now present our version:

Whomp, whomp. 

The huge crack in the paper maché is pretty obvious, as is the discoloration (mold, wheee!), but what is not visible in the photo are the tiny gnat-fly creatures who claimed our paper maché pumpkin for their own fall festival. When I picked up the...thing? from the other mom, it was infested with bugs, and moldy, and smelled like a frat house basement. In total denial, I thought that it might be salvageable, and I wrapped it up in a plastic bag and threw it into the trunk of my car with the four extra car seats and three bag chairs I am too lazy to remove. (And also, what if I have to transport an entire team of five year old basketball players to practice?) When I got home and unwrapped that bad boy and saw the crack, I groaned because there are sprays to take care of mold and bugs, but broken is an unsprayable problem.

I had already gone to the Baby's class and gotten the kids to make paint handprints on grocery bags because brown paper bags = recycled in my mind.

I think that green kids had six fingers. Or he moved.
The original plan was to cut out the prints and découpage them onto the paper maché pumpkin (because this is also a project for which I use only techniques that have French names...paper maché, découpage, flambé...) Obviously, I couldn't use the "pumpkin" that we'd made, so I had to get a real pumpkin. Home Depot wanted me to drop 50 bucks on a pumpkin of sufficient size to accommodate 22 preschooler-sized hand prints, which seemed, oh, I don't know, insane. Luckily, Publix had ones that were about the same size for $5.99! What? Why the huge price difference? I guess Arthur Blank needs the money to buy a better football team. (Yes, I know he sold HD, but the Falcons still stink.)

I brought home the pumpkin and set about making my beautiful creation. First I carved the pumpkin:

Then I cut out all the hand prints and pondered the design. Because I'm just that crazy, I decided that the pumpkin would be an homage (another French word) to Hand Across America. Which, if you're old enough to remember, you have probably also pegged your jeans and have at least a passing familiarity with hair mousse. Aside: The list of celebrities who participated in Hands Across America is a veritable who's who of 1980s pop culture. The following people were all featured at various locations across the United States: Brooke Shields, Susan Anton, Scott Baio, Tony Danza, Kathleen Turner, Emanuel Lewis, Chewbacca, Don Johnson, Ed Begley, Jr., Charlene Tilton, Dudley Moore, and John Stamos. 

The white, purple, and black hands represent people from different walks of life, uniting and joining hands around a pumpkin, which represents our great country, obvs. Of course, I also had some green hands, which represent some of the protests that broke out over Hands Across America. Because if there's one thing that America loves more than a demonstration of unity for charity, it's a counter demonstration to show that we're actually divided. One green hand represents Hawaii, where Tom Selleck helped lead Hands Across Hawaii, to remind people that Hawaii was also in the United States. Another represents the New England states which were also left out because, duh, New England:

Are you all still with me? Good. I used Mod Podge to attach all the hands and even though I'm not a Mod Podge expert, I can say with some level of assurance that Mod Podge wasn't meant for pumpkins. They are too bumpy and have too many ridges, so the hands kept on curling up. Here's how it looked when it was mostly done:

I put the plant in the top because I thought someone might really want some plants and would be forced to buy the pumpkin to get the plants. Then I added a gigantic burlap bow, because maybe a different someone could be in the market for a huge burlap bow and the plant-needer and the burlap bow-needer might get into a bidding war!

Also, I felt like it helped obscure the pumpkin a little.

When I dropped off our pumpkin in the cafeteria, I was glad to see that we were the only class that went with a Hands Across America theme (because how embarrassing would it have been to have two pumpkins with 1980's fringe pop-culture themes??) However, I feel like some of the other projects had a clearer or at least a more accessible vision:

Very Hungry Caterpillar Pumpkin 
Spider pumpkin about to feast on the very hungry caterpillar. 
Spaceship pumpkin and alien pumpkins and chalkboard paint.
Decoupagéd pumpkin with leaves.
Just humor me and agree that when it comes to pumpkin decorating, there are no winners. There are only people copying Pinterest with varying levels of success. We learned a valuable lesson that I am happy to impart to all of you, paper maché is not as easy as Pinterest makes it look but it's extremely popular with insects and fungus.

I've spent so much time on our pumpkin debacle, I nearly forgot to tell you about the donuts. Let's just say that after spending two hours...

tying yarn onto donuts...

I have developed...

A moral objection to them!

Now you'll get what you deserve, donut!
Update: There seems to be some confusion regarding the donut bobbing race, so I thought I'd provide further explanation and another picture. 

As you can see, I tied a clothesline between two trees and attached the donuts (previously strung on pieces of yarn) to the clothesline. The donuts are hung at about mouth height of a five-year-old. The idea is that the kids stand with their hands behind their backs and whomever eats the donut fastest wins a prize. In actuality, all the participants got a prize because someone objected to giving a prize for eating quickly, as such slovenly manners shouldn't be encouraged. I am not making this up. Obviously, the yarn turned out to be too long, so we trimmed it so it wouldn't get in the way. Hope this clears up the confusion so that you, too, can have a donut eating race at your next party!


  1. I am still a bit confounded by the donuts with yarn. Did any of the kids eat the yarn?!

    1. The donuts, because they are filled with all sorts of preservatives, are very tender and fall apart very easily, so the kids can eat them off the yarn without a problem. This also made it kind of difficult string the yarn through the center hole. Yeah, the kids might get a little bit of fuzz in their mouths, but I'm sure it's not the worst thing they've ingested.

    2. Whose idea was it to string the donuts? do they have to bob for them or do tricks?? still a bit confused here ;)

    3. We were instructed to string the donuts by the person in charge of the festival. The donut bobbing is a race, pure and simple. I've updated with some additional instructions should you want to try this at N's next birthday party. I know he likes to keep things the same, but this might make an interesting addition to the festivities.

    4. ha ha ha ha ha. Next year is the big 4-0. So we are (gasp) changing it up. Not like the Ks but... maybe this is another perfect add.

  2. 1.) Kudos to you. This is one of the craziest things I've ever read and I can't imagine my mother doing anything like this for whatever purpose this pumpkin (to be auctioned??) is supposed to serve. Leave alone the donuts.

    2.) Can you even imagine Hands Across America succeeding in this day and age? I mean, would it not be derided as some sort of socialist plot today? Replete with cable talking heads going nuts about collectivism and the utter laziness of the hungry? Totally nuts.

    1. 1. Thank you. You would be shocked at the elaborate fundraising events that go on at public schools that are completely managed by unpaid parent volunteers. Our elementary school hosts an artist marketplace that requires literally thousands of hours of volunteer time to pull off. Sometime between the 1980s and the 2000s school fundraisers became crazy elaborate.

      2. Ha! I honestly didn't pay much attention to it when it was happening in '86, but reading about it on Wikipedia made me realize it didn't even have much of a point. It was supposed to show unity, but it raised money for a couple different charities? The 80s were big on grand charitable gimmicks - "We are the World" and "Do They Know it's Christmastime" and Farm Aid and Comic Relief. In the 2000s it's all celebrity telethons - Stand Up to Cancer, plus Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, and the Boxing Day Tsunami all got celebrity telethons. I agree, though, HAA could never happen today.

  3. Just curious. Was there a donut bobbing board on Pinterest? If not, you should create one. I told you not to sign up for room parent. Hope you've learned your lesson. Just say "no" to the sign up sheet next year.

    1. I didn't even look for donut bobbing boards! I will have to check it out. Perhaps that's an untapped market and I can be the donut bobbing queen of Pinterest! You know, I said I didn't want to be a room parent, but the teacher called me and asked me to do it. It would have been really, really hard to say no.