Sometimes when we don’t plant enough of a particular gourd variety the year before, the need arises to speed dry the gourds in our greenhouse in order to use them sooner. When our inventory of raw, dried gourds is gone we just can’t wait for spring to come and the gourds to dry outside. Instead, we bring them in to be speed dried. This allows us to craft them about two months sooner than naturally drying them outside during the winter.
This particular circumstance is occurring with the pictured gourds.
The white spots in the picture are not snow – they are mold. It is critical to allow this mold to cover most of the gourd . If a gourd is dry before the mold has broken down the skin, the skin literally super glues itself to the shell and creates a nightmare for our washers.
First step: Freeze the gourds.
Second step: Mold the skin.
Third step: Place in a hot, dry room and hold your nose!
Final step: Wash all the mold and skin away with ease.
It’s fascinating how ugly these gourds need to get before we can turn them into something beautiful. In about a month these moldy gourds will be shiny Christmas tree ornaments!
Visit our Retail Store to pick up your Christmas pickle! Not sure what we’re talking about? The legend of the Christmas pickle goes like this…
In Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the Christmas tree was a pickle – carefully hidden in the branches. Legend says the one who found the pickle on December 25th would be blessed with a year of good fortune (and a special gift)!
Relive the tradition with your family and friends year after year with our gourd pickle ornament!
Spring is here and you know what that means: cleaning time! As you go through your closets, cupboards and drawers we’re sure that you must be finding a lot of things that you aren’t sure if you should throw away or recycle. Its hard to know what to do with things like old make-up or empty printer-ink cartridges. In honor of Earth Day this week, we wanted to share this great guide thanks to our friends at Real Simple. Here is the ultimate A-Z guide of what can be tossed in the trash or how you can recycle these things! Wondering what to do with that old toothpaste tube? Toothpaste tubes: Even with all that sticky paste inside, you can recycle aluminum tubes (put them with the aluminum cans), but not plastic ones. Or what about wipes and sponges? Wipes and sponges: These can’t be recycled. But sea sponges and natural sponges made from vegetable cellulose are biodegradable and can be tossed into a compost heap.
Wine corks: To turn them into flooring and wall tiles, send them to Wine Cork Recycling, Yemm & Hart Ltd., 610 South Chamber Drive, Fredericktown MO 63645. Or put them in a compost bin. “They’re natural,” says Matsch, “so they’re biodegradable.” Plastic corks can’t be composted or recycled.
Our suggestion: Turn your wine corks into a wreath or craft!
Beautiful wine cork wreath by twoheartscreation on Etsy!
Check out the complete A-Z list here! Happy Earth Week from Meadowbrooke Gourds.
Frog Gourd from the Local Artist Corner at our Retail Store
Did you know the Halloween game of bobbing for apples was first used to predict marriages? Yeah. Only single people played the game, and the first one to bite into an apple floating in water would be the next to marry. Does anyone know how to do that without plunging your head into the
How does she still have dry hair? beth-anne.com
water and shoving the apple against the bottom or side of the tub so you can sink your teeth into it?
There are other marriage-related games and customs connected with apples. For instance, if a girl eats an apple while looking at a mirror on Halloween, she will see he face of her husband-to-be in the glass. It’s a somewhat complicated ritual, with the girl first cutting the apple in half into a top and bottom half, so that each cross-section shows a pentagram, or 5-pointed star. This was the
Don't try sinking your teeth into this juicy Apple Gourd…
symbol of the goddess of fertility, so the girl would throw one half of it over her left shoulder for her lover to eat. She must then walk backwards toward the mirror, but not look back at it. As she is walking, she must eat the other half of the apple while combing her hair. When she gets to the mirror, as she continues to comb her hair, she looks back over her shoulder and will see the face of her love in the mirror. Yeah. Let us know how that works for you.
…or bobbing for this raw Apple Gourd!
This link below gives some great Halloween history, too. Have fun!
With Halloween just around the corner and trick or treating in Carlisle, PA happening tonight (Thursday evening), we thought it would be fun to include a little trick or treating history for you! Trick or Treating is actually a long and honored tradition dating back thousands of years.
Well, the antecedent to it did. During times of famine, disease, and such, people often wore masks to frighten off the evil spirits they believed responsible for these disasters. Samhain (Sow-en), you may recall from an earlier post, is where our modern Halloween comes from. It celebrates the abundant harvest, and signals the end of the growing time. That also meant colder weather was approaching. Well, ghosts being cold by nature, would do their best to trick people into letting them get closer to the fires. So, people were very careful to wear masks in that season.
The custom of trick of treating began with 19th century souling. On All Souls Day,November 2nd, early Christian beggars would walk through the neighborhood, begging soul cakes. A soul cake received was a promise to pray for the dead, and so each one represented a soul released from Purgatory. Fast forward to around the 18th century, and the beggars become children and the treats become nuts, fruits, and buns. Fast forward a little more and the candy companies get into the act and thus the beginnings of what we see now.
We’ll post a recipe for Soul Cakes soon! Enjoy Trick or Treating tonight and be sure to stay safe. Here are some Trick or Treating safety tips for you.
Time for another bit of Halloween history. We mentioned before that the whole idea of the Jack o’ Lantern comes from a story about a guy called Stingy Jack and a rather absurd devil. What happened was this guy Jack was having a drink with the devil. Being a stingy fellow, Jack didn’t want to pay for the drinks. So he talked the devil into turning himself into a coin to pay for them with. For some reason, the devil thought this was a good idea and did so. Small wonder that Jack did not use it to pay the tab. He put it in his pocket, which also contained a silver cross, which kept the devil from resuming his proper form. Jack agreed to release the devil only upon obtaining his promise that should Jack die in the next year, the devil would not claim his soul.
A year later, Jack again tricks this pathetic devil into climbing a tree to pick some fruit. While he is up there, Jack carves a cross in the tree so the devil cannot come down out of the tree. This time the deal is Jack will release the devil upon the devil’s promise of not claiming his soul, this time for 10 years.
Well, Jack does die within those 10 years. The devil, who apparently has quite a lot of integrity, honors his word and does not claim his soul. God, however, won’t let this guy into his place for obvious reasons. Having nowhere to go, Jack is condemned to wander the earth forever, with only a coal to light his way. He put the coal in a hollowed-out turnip. So, the term Jack o’ Lantern doesn’t actually refer to to pumpkin at all, but to the guy carrying it. But no one seems to worry about the details of myths too much. Which is a good thing, or we might be tempted to ask
why the devil was having a drink with Jack in the first place or how that bar tab ever was paid.
So, now you know. By the way, we’ve got some pretty cool Jack o’ Lanterns you might want to check out.
Would you like a new way to teach your kids about the spirit of Thanksgiving? Tell them about the origin of the Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty. We know it as a horn-shaped basket containing the fruits of an abundant harvest. We associate it with Thanksgiving because the first Thanksgiving was just that – a celebration of the first abundant harvest the pilgrims had.
The cornucopia originated in ancient Greece. According to myth, the god Zeus was raised by a goat named Amalthea (It was either that or get eaten by his father who didn’t want competition.). It was one of her horns that was the first cornucopia (corn = horn + copia = abundance [as in copious]). How the horn got off of her head depends on which story you read, but however it happened, it was filled with fruits and flowers, either as a promise to always provide anything she wanted or as a sign of reverence. As indicated in the cornucopia to the right, the first Thanksgiving table was probably laden with many gourds – including winter squash – since those were a large part of the diet of Native Americans.
Whether or not a goat’s horn was even actually used is doubtful. But it still is filled with fruits, vegetables, and flowers and still represents all the good things about harvest. And it still brings up warm feelings whenever you see one, doesn’t it? Which florists have capitalized on quite well, of course.
Try filling your decorative cornucopia with our “gourdocopia” collection! They make a beautiful fall display and will last for years to come.
Nature's Centerpiece; part of our Gourdicopia Collection
A turnip. No, seriously. It comes from an old Irish myth (Aren’t all myths old? Are there any new myths?) about a guy named Stingy Jack and a none-too-bright, but quite trustworthy, Devil. Here’s a link to one of the versions of the legend, and here’s another one, and there are many more.
The upshot is that Jack couldn’t get into either Heaven or Hell and was doomed to roam the dark of the night forever, with only a coal to light his way, which Jack carried in a hollowed-out turnip. So, he became know as Jack of the Lantern, or Jack o’ Lantern. So, the first Jack o’ Lantern was not a pumpkin, or a gourd of any kind, but a turnip, which, we must assume, grew larger in those days. They also used potatoes and beets, until they came to this country and figured out pumpkins were a lot easier to carve. Of course, we here at Meadowbrooke Gourds make them out of gourds, like these.
All Hallow’s Eve was the Celtic New Year’s Eve. They believed that on that night, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead was
The Casper Family
quite thin, so the spirits could walk the earth then. The celebrations to appease the spirits turned into most of the Halloween customs of today.
By the way, the name “pumpkin” is derived from the French term for “large melon.”
Before there was pottery and basketry, there were gourds. Gourds were among the first containers, bowls, plates, and utensils ever made. Yup, they’ve been around as long as toolmaking has. In fact, pottery and basketry seem to be modeled after gourds. Look at this pre Columbian-era pot. Clearly, you can see the bottom of a bottle gourd in its shape, just like the raw, cleaned bowls we sell on our site and in our retail store. And look at these dipper gourds. They practically scream, “I’m a spoon!”
Now, you can say these are the most reasonable, serviceable shape for containers and that pottery would have developed this way even without the gourds to guide them. And you may be right. In which case, mega kudos to Nature for providing such a wonderful tool for us! Just by cutting a little off here and there, early humans had ready-to-use bowls, cups, spoons, etc. And
the gourd was one – perhaps the – earliest cultivated crop. That’s a pretty amazing history, don’t you think?
A Brazilian “berimbau” courtesy of nibOOtOO
Did you know…
The gourd was probably part of the first musical instrument created by human beings. It was called the musical bow, and it’s still in use today. Although you may have seen a sort of musical bow in bluegrass music, that’s not the same instrument. The first instrument history knows of is now called a berimbau. Click here to see a video of how it is played.
The gourd was, and is, used in a lot of musical instruments because it’s such a good resonator. It works like the body of a guitar or violin. In the musical bow, the gourd replaced the mouth as the resonator. Another likely difference between the prehistoric musical bow and the contemporary berimbau is that the older one probably used some type of sinew for the string rather than metal.
Enjoy the video!