Concrete Pumpkins: How-to

Fall is my favorite time of year!

And Halloween is my favorite holiday!

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A while ago I made a couple dozen of these concrete pumpkins for a big Halloween party. I gave most of them away, but during our move this summer, I realized we had several left-over that I’d shoved in the basement. My husband complained and complained as to why, exactly, we were moving big clumps of concrete with us to our new house. I told him we weren’t and acted like I was getting rid of them. But I snuck them into the garden shed of the new house. It wasn’t until recently, because of the dang fall yard cleaning, that he realize I’d fibbed a bit.

“These things keep cropping up like they are from a nightmare or something!” he said.

But I couldn’t part with them because I love them. Anyway, I’m keeping two and getting rid of the rest.

Before I do, I wanted to post a how-to, because they were so easy, and cheap, and awesome!

Step One:

Go to the mountains and find some large branches.

Shove them in your car, then clean out the car before the husband gets home!

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Oh, and if you happen upon a rope swing, while looking for said branches, by all means… IMG_2190.JPG

Step Two:

Next, buy those dollar store or Walmart plastic pumpkins.

Fill them with a mix of concrete (quikrete), perlite, and sphagnum moss. If you want the concrete to be smooth, then add straight concrete. But I wanted a worn, rustic look, so I added the other mix-ins. I mixed it in a big wheel barrel because I did so many. For small amounts, you could just use a big bucket for mixing. About 2/3 concrete to 1/3 mix of moss and perlite together. Scoop the mixture into the plastic pumpkins.

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Step Three:

Tap the pumpkins to make sure the concrete settles and that there aren’t any air pockets. Then add in the branches. I added more sphagnum moss to the top of the concrete where the branches go into the concrete. Just cause I thought it would look cool.

Let the pumpkins cure and dry out for two or three days.

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Step Four:

I spray painted all the branches a flat black. I should’ve done this when they were still in the plastic because I kept trying not to overspray onto the concrete. Then you get a razor, scissors, pliers, and pry off the plastic. They are glorious!

(Be careful that the razor doesn’t score into the concrete.)

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Step Five:

Because this was for a big halloween party in a huge space, I wanted drama and height. So we wrapped webbing all around the branches and then hung Halloween decor from the branches. Like bugs and bones and ghosts, etc.

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Step Six:

Once Halloween was over I cut off the branches for storage. I just kept a foot or so and tied an orange burlap bow around the wood sticking out. I also painted the eyes and mouth with black acrylic paint to make them stand out more.

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I’ve loved having these on my front porch!

But my husband hasn’t loved tripping over them.

See, he doesn’t look too pleased, but he really is a happy guy.

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See them on the railing? Beneath the hanging skull? ^^

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Happy Halloween!!!

  • Tara

Hidden Gems

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This is a photo of me driving up to the mountains looking for hidden gems. It was by sheer accident, as my son snapped a photo of the waterfall, that the reflection on the car glass made my face appear to be part of the cliff. My hair weaves with the crags and crevices. My shoulders and body are clothed with trees and dirt.

There have been no alterations to this photo. I like to think that this reflects how much the mountains, and their plentiful hidden gems, are a part of me. 🙂

* A couple weeks ago I went to a low key concert in a neighbor’s home. The hosts had graciously brought in the talented singer/songwriter, J. Wagner. As usual, I sat, enamored to the songwriting.

Before one of the final songs, the musician talked about the dry spells that writers go through. He talked about a particularly long personal drought and how he wandered and wondered along the streets aimlessly, frustrated about his lost muse. People scuffed past, birds sang above, but still… nothing.

Out of the crowd, a gaggle of women past him. An elderly woman’s voice rang out and found his uninspired ears.

“Honey, I left my laughter buried beneath the river years ago.”

Golden, brilliant gem of words!

He said, that like a flash of lightening, a song came to him and he wrote it down in a notebook that he always kept in his pocket. It soon became this song…

Writers need to open our eyes and ears. And for heaven’s sake, don’t leave the house without a notebook.

So, I just finished up my taxes for the first year as a published author. As I was flipping through my receipts, I thought about all the things I should or could write off. Lunches with friends. Dinners with husband. Mileage up to the canyon. The sack lunch that I took hiking up to hidden hot pots. Writing is woven into every part of my life. Nuggets of inspiration fly through the night sky, or appear in a movie, or are in the way my kids react to one another.

A few years ago I heard a keynote from the amazing author Anne Perry. She spoke about the details in our lives that prick our hearts and make us stand in awe. Her hidden gem is “light dancing on water.” My mother’s is “clouds.” A friend of mine is “owls.” I thought to myself, “mine are the mountains.” If I am ever stuck in my writing, I take to the mountains. I always have, and I always will.

When I was in junior high I had a friend who said he wanted to marry me because he didn’t know any girl who loved nature and the mountains more than I. My husband said the same words. I said yes to him because I knew he was sincere and I loved the way he loved me… and the way he loved the mountains. 

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But what if our dry spell happens for no reason? What if we move to the desert, far away from mountains? Or we live in a city where there is pollution and not clouds? Or what if we are surrounded by all the things that should give us moments of brilliancy and reflection, but our minds are too polluted within the daily dredges that inspiration never gets filtered through?

Look smaller. Sometimes pearls of wisdom and diamonds of dialogue hit us on a crowded street when we are walking around aimlessly.

I find Hidden Gems everywhere. 

Because I look for them.

What is your hidden gem? Do you have a detail in life that inspires you?

Happy writing-

Tara