Showing posts with label pumpkin carving contest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pumpkin carving contest. Show all posts

Saturday, November 2, 2019

And The Winner Is...

All I have to say about the pumpkin-carving contest voting this year is: WOW! Y'all really turned out to vote this year. We ended up with 210 votes, more than a hundred votes higher than any of our previous contests! The polls certainly seemed to be an easier way to vote than our old comment system, although I did miss some of the banter and the chance to see more of the decision-making process happen as people voted. If you voted this year and have also voted in prior years, I'd love to know what you thought of the new system vs. the old!

Even with so many votes, the response was very decisive. Unfortunately for the losing pumpkin, it garnered far fewer votes this year than the winner; from the beginning, there was a clear favorite. With a final tally of 180-30, the winner of this year's contest is.......................

Pumpkin B!


A few months ago when Mahon and I were tossing around theme ideas for this year's contest, he suggested space as a theme. It took me a little while of pondering, but I soon landed on the design I wanted: a lyrical, emotional moon scene that honored the connection between Earth and space. I can honestly say I've never been so happy with any pumpkin I've ever carved as I am with this year's Pumpkin B. I'm so proud of how well I was able to complete my vision!

Of course, Mahon's Pumpkin A is also spectacular, and I am absolutely gobsmacked by his creativity and ingenuity. Perhaps next year he'll take the trophy again!

Thanks so much for voting—we'll see y'all next year! (And next year we'll be armed with our preferred tools again. Hmph.)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Cast Your Vote In The Thirteenth Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest!

If you've followed me long at all, you're probably familiar with the oldest tradition in the Baldwin household: the annual Halloween pumpkin-carving contest. Back when my husband, Mahon, and I were baby-faced college students with fewer worries but more debt, we bonded over a shared spirit of competition when he invited me to his family's yearly pumpkin-carving bash. He boasted that he was sure he could carve a better pumpkin than me, and since we couldn't be content with only our own opinions or even those of the family members there that day, I uploaded the photos to my very-new-back-then blog and let the world be our judge.

Since then, every year we've repeated the tradition—slaving over contest themes, choosing pumpkins with the utmost of care, trying out dozens of different tools (WE HATED THE DREMEL, OKAY?), and always sharing the pictures with the world so that YOU get to decide who, after all, is the best pumpkin carver in the Baldwin household.

This year, as the world celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing and the U.S. turns its gaze once again into the cosmos, we thought that there could be no better theme for our contest than space itself. The final frontier of pumpkin carving, as it were! If I do say so myself, these are some of the very best pumpkins we've ever produced, which is especially impressive considering that there was a last-minute drama involving lost carving tools and we had to go back to using kitchen knives and x-acto cutters, something I swore we would never do again. But hey, we survived, and these pumpkins are pretty epically space-tacular!

As always, all descriptions are written by me, and all photos are a joint effort between us both. This year Pumpkin A has more photos only because it is 3D enough to need to be seen from several angles to be appreciated; Pumpkin B, which is a more traditionally unilateral carving, shines (pun intended) through with fewer photos.

This years rules, as in previous years, are:

1. Just ONE vote per person... no cheating! If you don't have a Google or OpenID account and so you're voting anonymously, make sure to sign your vote. Unsigned anonymous votes may be deleted. You can also cast a vote on Instagram or Facebook, as long as you keep it to the official pumpkin carving contest thread on those platforms (it gets too hard chasing votes across multiple threads).

2. DO NOT reveal who carved which pumpkin! If you suspect that you may know which pumpkin was carved by whom, DO NOT share that information in the comments. Any comment that tries to spill the carver's identities will be quickly deleted. (Also, we really DON'T recommend attempting to guess whose pumpkin is whose. In the past, guessers have tried to swing the vote for one person or another, and guessed wrong, with disastrous [but hilarious] results. So really, just vote for which pumpkin you actually like better and leave it at that, okay???)

3. Get all your friends and family to cast their votes too! Share on social media! Bug your co-workers!


First up! Pumpkin A:





This year's carver of Pumpkin A has truly gone above and beyond to present a mind-bendingly original piece of gourdian art. Not only have they used three distinct pumpkins to create the planet Saturn, its rings floating free around it—they've even gone so far as to meticulously paint their creation with UV paint, lending it a fancifully eerie glow. Perched atop the planet are an intrepid astronaut explorer and their newfound companion, a friendly Saturnian. In a moment where NASA prepares to launch itself into future missions to far-flung planets, this still-life of the first interaction between a human and an extraterrestrial seems especially appropos.

You'll notice the wealth of incredible details with this pumpkin, including the fact that the Saturnian glows in the dark but the astronaut doesn't, indicating that the magical phosphorescence of the planet lends itself to fauna as well as flora. In the second picture, you can also see that the rings are actually suspended around the planet, not resting on the ground—a true feat of engineering!



Next we have Pumpkin B:




Just a week and a half ago, NASA conducted its first all-female space walk, as Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station together in a groundbreaking act of space-age feminism. This historic moment seems to be very much on the mind of the young girl featured in Pumpkin B, as she stands against a star-dappled sky, wistfully gazing up at the full moon. Perhaps she, like Koch and Meir once did, dreams of someday swimming among the stars—or even stepping foot on the moon itself, taking something more than just a small step for womankind. 

Notice the detail and lyricism present in Pumpkin B: the careful carving of the figure of the girl with her uplifted hand; the faint light of the Earth where she stands; and the crater-pocked surface of the moon, majestic and proud, in the sky above her.

We're trying something new this year! This year, I'm going to try to use polls to manage some of our voting. If the polls don't work for you, or if you're entering votes for multiple people, you can of course still cast votes in the comments just like normal. You can vote in the poll below, in the comment section, in the comments on Facebook or Instagram, or on my Twitter poll (@beingCindy). But please, only vote once!




Voting will close around 9pm Pacific Time on Saturday, November 2nd

Postscript: This is actually the first year that Kate has expressed a wish to be in the contest. Alas, you can't actually vote for this pumpkin (I told her she has to get to the point where her pumpkin could pass for one of ours so she doesn't get votes purely by default!), but we wanted to share it anyway. The design is a witch riding a broom with her trusty feline friend in front of her, their flight path directly toward a crescent moon. Design by Kate, carving by Mahon under Kate's instruction.




Wednesday, November 7, 2018

And the Winner Is....

So, remember how I said results would definitely be posted by 9pm PST tonight? Well, I looked at the calendar while scheduling that and thought, "hmm, we have parent-teacher conference that night AND that's laundry-folding night... Hopefully I won't be too busy!"

Reader, I was VERY busy.

But now here I am, belatedly! And I'm pleased to announce that the winner of this year's pumpkin carving contest, by a total of 57-36..............

Pumpkin B!


If you've followed our contest long, you'll know that Mahon has only won a handful of times in our 12 years of doing this. In fact, a couple of years ago he was feeling so dejected about it that there was real talk about ending the contest for good. But I think he's feeling pretty good about things right now, since he is, in fact, the carver of Pumpkin B, making this his second victory in a row after last year's masterful Te Ka pumpkin.

And I can't fault him for the win—this curcubit creation is pretty incredible, and probably one of me favorite pumpkins ever to emerge from the contest. It's pretty cool, seeing my Della reading in her playhouse!

Congrats to this year's winter, and thanks so much for voting! We'll see y'all next year.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Cast Your Vote in the Twelfth Annual Pumpkin—Um, Curcubit—Carving Contest!


It's everyone's favorite time of year—you know, when we're all spending our time poring over candidates, trying to figure out which option best typifies our values, and heading to the polls.

That's right: It's pumpkin carving contest time!

For the first time ever, this year's pumpkins ended up getting rescheduled until after Halloween, thanks to a combo of complicating factors. But better late than never, and here we are, with this year's candidates!

This year's theme is one we've had in mind for more than a year. In honor of Where the Watermelons Grow being released this summer, our pumpkin carvings are everything Della Kelly (and friends). This time, in honor of our theme, we even have an extra-special addition to one carver's entry. We actually REALLY tried to find full-sized watermelons for us both to carve, but alas: there are no regular watermelons to be had for love or money in November, so pumpkins it (mostly) is.

As always, all descriptions are written by me, and all photos are a joint effort between us both. This years rules, as in previous years, are:

1. Just ONE vote per person... no cheating! If you don't have a Google or OpenID account and so you're voting anonymously, make sure to sign your vote. Unsigned anonymous votes may be deleted. You can also cast a vote on Instagram or Facebook, as long as you keep it to the official pumpkin carving contest thread on those platforms (it gets too hard chasing votes across multiple threads).

2. DO NOT reveal who carved which pumpkin! If you suspect that you may know which pumpkin was carved by whom, DO NOT share that information in the comments. Any comment that tries to spill the carver's identities will be quickly deleted. (Also, we really DON'T recommend attempting to guess whose pumpkin is whose. In the past, guessers have tried to swing the vote for one person or another, and guessed wrong, with disastrous [but hilarious] results. So really, just vote for which pumpkin you actually like better and leave it at that, okay???)

3. Get all your friends and family to cast their votes too! Share on social media! Bug your co-workers!

First up! Pumpkin A:




...through the window to the backyard I could see Miss Tabitha. A cloud of bees swirled around her, so many bees that the ends of her blond hair lifted in the wind they made. She wasn’t wearing one of those white space suits beekeepers are supposed to put on to protect themselves from stings—but she didn’t look afraid, not one bit. She looked... at home there, in that storm of bees...
(Where the Watermelons Grow, page 200)

Central to Della's story in Where the Watermelons Grow is the famous Quigley honey, responsible for mending the wounds and woes of Maryville for generations. Whether it's healing a baby with pneumonia, fixing a broken heart, or mending a family feud, the Quigley honey has the ability to bring out strengths inside you that you never realized were there. In their pumpkin, Carver A has used careful shading and exquisite detail to evoke the mystical, magical nature of the Quigley honey threaded throughout the book—reminding the viewer that magic is always so much closer than you think.

Pumpkin Curcubit(s) B:




We’d built it last summer, right by where the curve of Hummingbird Bay met the edge of the Hawthorne farm, and both our daddies hated it because we’d made it ourselves out of old plywood we scavenged from the supplies my daddy used to build our chicken coop last year. Before that we’d spent years playing in an old tobacco shed, but the playhouse was better, because it was made with our own hands.
(Where the Watermelons Grow, page 56)

In a true stroke of genius, Carver B has chosen to incorporate an actual mini watermelon into their design. This carver has used the watermelon to depict Della's beloved playhouse, where Della sits, lost in a book—quite possibly the very Emily Dickinson poems that teach her how to hope when she feels all hope is lost. The watermelon is set into a pumpkin, into which a window is carved with curling watermelon vines below and swaying tree branches above. Of special note is the color contrast provided by the interior of the watermelon against the pumpkin—definitely an effect we've never seen before!

Voting will close by 9pm PST on 11/7. You can destress from the actual election by watching these results roll in just one day later.

Postscript: You can't vote for this one (any attempts to vote for it will be rejected!), but we figured we'd share, anyway! Kate's design this year is a "cheetah underneath a rainbow."


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

And the winner is....


If you've been following our contest for long, you probably know the sad truth that I almost always win, even though Mahon's technical skills are often (though not always) better than mine. Every year, I say I'm sure he's going to win... and almost every year, I'm proved wrong. In our ten years of contests, he's only one twice.

Until now.

Yes, my friends, Mahon is the carver of the fantastically awesome Te Ka Pumpkin B! And with a final tally of 56-13, he takes it in a LANDSLIDE. (...Lavaslide?)


Guys, I can't even be a tiny bit resentful. Even if his pumpkin hadn't been clearly better than mine this year (my vision definitely did not translate as well as I'd hoped), the poor man seriously deserves a victory.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cast Your Vote In The Eleventh Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest!


Picture this, my friends: The year is 2007. Our heroine, a young college sophomore, has been invited to dinner and pumpkin carving with the family of the boy that she's definitely not dating. And, because the awkwardness of their deeply ambiguous relationship is best masked by rivalry, he issues the invitation thusly:

"I bet I can carve a better pumpkin than you."

Little do our young definitely-not-lovers know, but this will be the start not just of an annual pumpkin carving contest tradition—but of a relationship that will produce one marriage certificate, a string of moves across the American West, and one outsized-personality daughter.

In fact, the night of this very first pumpkin carving contest, as it happens, will be the very first night that our heroine will turn and look at our hero and think: Maybe I could fall in love with him.

The rest, as they say, is history.

.   .   .   .   .

Ten years later, we still celebrate Halloween with a carving contest; these days, we have a theme that we both have to carve to. And each year, we allow all and sundry to cast their votes via my blog. (Previous years can be found under this label, and at my old blog, here!)

This year's theme? Well, we let Kate pick, and it really shouldn't shock you that she immediately shouted "MOANA!" 

So Moana it is.

As always, all descriptions are written by me, and all photos are a joint effort between us both. (And actually, uh, this year I conceptualized both pumpkins, too, though Mahon came up with the design for his entirely.) This years rules, as in previous years, are:

1. Just ONE vote per person... no cheating! If you don't have a Google or OpenID account and so you're voting anonymously, make sure to sign your vote. Unsigned anonymous votes may be deleted. I'll tally votes here, on Facebook, and on Instagram, but please only vote in one place!

2. DO NOT reveal who carved which pumpkin! If you suspect that you may know which pumpkin was carved by whom, DO NOT share that information in the comments. Any comment that tries to spill the carver's identities will be quickly deleted. (Also, we really DON'T recommend attempting to guess whose pumpkin is whose. In the past, guessers have tried to swing the vote for one person or another, and guessed wrong, with disastrous [but hilarious] results. So really, just vote for which pumpkin you actually like better and leave it at that, okay???)

3. Get all your friends and family to cast their votes too! Share on social media! Bug your co-workers!

And now, for the pumpkins.

There's a line where the sky meets the sea, and it calls you—right to Pumpkin AThis year's Carver A decided to depict the quintessential scene: Moana herself, fearlessly wayfinding through the wildest of seas, never deterred from her quest to restore peace to her island. Her hair (which, can we just say, #hairgoals!) blows in the wind as she navigates her craft with its distinctive sail, not for one second scared by the looming wave curling over her boat's bow. Note Carver A's playful attention to textures, as well as the swirling symbol adorning the sail—which, Carver A is not ashamed to say, nearly broke his or her brain in two.



Unfortunately for our young princess—sorry, "daughter of the chief"—on the other side of her horizon awaits this fearsome demon of fire and rock, this year's Pumpkin B. Ever defeat a lava monster? Yeah, me neither. With careful wielding of tools and laborious time and effort, this year's Carver B has brought the fearsome Te Ka to pyroclastic life, complete with both her fiery aura and her desperately angry demeanor. Make special note of Carver B's exquisite attention to detail, particularly in the depiction of Te Ka's charcoal-esque stone skin, through which you can see her molten rage threatening to break free at any moment. Here, our fell foe prepares any second to launch a flaming lava ball towards Moana's boat... and none may know who will triumph!



And only you, my friends, may know who will triumph in this year's pumpkin carving contest! 
Voting will close by 9pm PDT on Halloween night.

You're a long ways past the reef—might as well go vote!

Postscript: On no account may you cast a vote for this pumpkin (all votes for this one will be rejected, so don't even try it!), but we figured we'd show you the cuteness anyway. (Face carved by Daddy, design thought up and spots painted by Kate.)


Saturday, November 5, 2016

And The Winner Is....



Guys. Oh my gosh, guys. This is the first year EVER that I have forgotten to publish the results of the pumpkin contest when I said I would!!!


The only thing I can blame it on is the fact that this has not been a very good week for my fibromyalgia'd-up brain (I have somehow locked my keys in the car twice in the last two weeks, after not doing it since high school?!), and also because honestly Mahon and I knew as soon as we finished carving which pumpkin would win, and it did, and so there was never the usual edge of excited vote-tracking because it was so clear from the start. And thus, it apparently slipped out of my brain entirely.

But now I have remembered, and without further ado I give you this year's contest winner: Pumpkin B! (I usually attach a pic, but this post keeps breaking every time I try to do that, so you will have to go to the original contest post to see them both. Sorry!) If you've been playing along with us for many years, you probably guessed that this was my pumpkin, making this another Cindy victory. Poor Mahon. He's already planning for next year, though, and I gotta tell you... it's gonna be pretty cool!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cast Your Vote In The Tenth Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Long ago, in a land far far away, my now-husband and I were young college students flirting with the idea of taking our casual friendship a step further. It was October, and he invited me to his parents' house one weekend just before Halloween. "I bet I can carve a better pumpkin than you," he boasted, in the true spirit of our very competitive flirtation.

And thus, a contest was born. Nine years later, we still celebrate Halloween with a carving contest; these days, we have a theme that we both have to carve to. And each year, we allow all and sundry to cast their votes via my blog. (Previous years can be found at my old blog, here!)

I'm going to warn you, folks: This year was, um, not our best year. We tried some new things, including a dremel (long story, but we're not big fans, actually!), and neither of our pumpkins quite lived up to our visions for them. They definitely don't hold a candle—pun intended—to some of our truly great years. And this year, I think we're both starting to feel the potential for a change in the breeze, the inkling of a time when this pumpkin carving contest will have run its natural course, as it were, and be consigned to past tradition instead of present.

But for this year? It's still on, baby. And this year's theme is Harry Potter! 

As always, all descriptions are written by me, and all photos are a joint effort between us both. This years rules, as in previous years, are:

1. Just ONE vote per person... no cheating! If you don't have a Google or OpenID account and so you're voting anonymously, make sure to sign your vote. Unsigned anonymous votes may be deleted.

2. DO NOT reveal who carved which pumpkin! If you suspect that you may know which pumpkin was carved by whom, DO NOT share that information in the comments. Any comment that tries to spill the carver's identities will be quickly deleted. (Also, we really DON'T recommend attempting to guess whose pumpkin is whose. In the past, guessers have tried to swing the vote for one person or another, and guessed wrong, with disastrous [but hilarious] results. So really, just vote for which pumpkin you actually like better and leave it at that, okay???)

3. Get all your friends and family to cast their votes too! Share on social media! Bug your co-workers!

And now, for the pumpkins.

This year's Pumpkin A is a spooktastic take on one of cinema's most horrible (and marvelously Halloween-ish) scenes, as far as I'm concerned: Harry's and Ron's run-in in the Forbidden Forest with Aragog, the massive and horrible Acromantula and former pet of Hagrid's, who might bear Hagrid himself love but holds no compunction about eating Hagrid's friends. Carver A truly broke the bounds of pumpkin carving this year, creatively using two pumpkins to create a 3D masterpiece. The jagged skyline recalls the trees of the Forbidden Forest that hem Harry and Ron in as they prepare to do battle with Aragog, and Carver A even used specialized tools to suggest the branches of the trees above them (visible in the daylight pictures). Harry and Ron stand back to back, wands raised and aglow, as Aragog crashes toward them. Especially noteworthy in this year's Pumpkin A is the expert level of detail on Aragog: minute pincers that grasp for the beleaguered boys as they try to make their escape, the texture along his back suggesting bristly hairs. What it lacks in traditional pumpkin glow, this work makes up for with innovation and emotion; without doubt, this year's Pumpkin A is a unique masterpiece.




This year's Pumpkin B, not to be outdone, takes a different tack: this expertly-rendered and traditionally carved tableau depicts Harry's climactic battle with Salazar Slytherin's pet basilisk, deep within the Chamber of Secrets. Using simple-looking but fiendishly difficult outlining techniques to dramatic effect, Carver B has shown us Harry in his final, heart-stopping moment, as the basilisk rears above him to take deadly aim and deliver the killing stroke. Gryffindor's Sword glows with purpose as Fawkes the Phoenix swoops down from the top right corner, and Harry, nearly defeated by still undaunted, prepares for his last stand. Especially of note in this year's Pumpkin B is the lifelike reality of the basilisk, complete with minute fangs, ready to pierce Harry's upraised arm and very nearly turn the Wizarding World over to Voldemort once and for all.



All right—it's time to head to the polls!
Leave your vote in the comments. 
Voting will remain open until Wednesday, November 2nd, at around 8pm Pacific time.
(Unless Kate is having a fit at that moment, in which case it might be a little later. But you know, pretty close.)