Saturday, 25 October 2014

Care to Join Us for Scary Tea?

It started with our grocery shopping at the supermarket this week.

Although Halloween isn't traditionally celebrated as such in Britain, the modern festival has its origins from the Celtic/Gaelic practice of Samhain.

There are so many pumpkins and Halloween-related items in the supermarkets that one cannot walk past without knowing that Halloween is around the corner.  I don't intend to make a big deal out of this festival because: (1) I don't like what the festival represents and its associations, and (2) I don't want to encourage the increasing commericalisation that comes with it.  However, we do mark the festival in a small way at home every year, so we bought three small culinary pumpkins with the intention of making the most of them, as we did last year.

I made pumpkin soup and roasted the seeds with sea salt.  The boys vehemently refused to touch the pumpkin soup, so I had the pleasure of having the whole pot to myself (over two days).  I just looked through last year's post and realised that the boys have been very consistent with their dislike of pumpkin soup, and I have been persistently trying to feed it to them every year!  In this household it's often difficult to determine which one of us is the most stubborn: is it the boys, for flatly refusing to taste the soup every year, or is it me, for trying it on every year?  It's hard to say.  Anyhow, nobody backed down, as usual.  Maybe I'll give up trying to get them to like pumpkin soup next year.

After the unfortunate pumpkin soup saga, we moved on to the more agreeable activity of pumpkin carving.  Tiger and I spent some time looking through the different pumpkin carving templates before deciding upon a goofy face, a scary face and a ghost (both templates came with the pumpkin carving kit we bought).

Since the pumpkins we have are small, I had to draw the patterns onto the pumpkins with a marker pen instead of pinning the templates directly onto them.  In the process of drawing, I realised that our pumpkins are too small to show the ghost pattern clearly, so I persuaded Tiger to change that to the Hissing Cat, which I think has simpler outlines which make for easier carving.

Once the outlines were drawn, I passed each pumpkin to Tiger for him to do the carving, but not before watching the instructions from Lucinda's daughter and from the following clip to get some ideas of how to do it perfectly:

Each year as we carve the pumpkins, Tiger is able to take over more of the process.  This year, he did all the carving using the small serrated saw from the pumpkin carving kit.  Now the three pumpkins are used as a centrepiece on our dining table.  They look alright in the day, but they look best at night.

Tiger then said that he wanted to make some scones for tea, for he suddenly realised that it has been a few months since he last cooked.   I reckon we would have starved to death by now if he were in charge of cooking in this household... Since we're working with pumpkins, we decided to make pumpkin seed scones by adding some pumpkin seeds to this traditional recipe before putting the scones in the oven.

Master Chef has been advised that his credibility will increase when he can spell correctly!

When the scones were baked after 20 minutes, and the table was set, we were ready for our Halloween Tea Party!

Would you like to have a closer look at what's being served for tea?

 This week's special:
1.  homemade pumpkin seed scones (see above)
2.  roasted pumpkin seeds (see above)
3.  liquorice tea (only because it comes in a purple box, which fits nicely with one of the Halloween colours)
4.  homemade fig jam (It's so easy to make that Tiger asked why we hadn't done it before.  I forsee more homemade preserves this winter.)

5. tarantula eggs

For accompaniment, we have a good few spiders and centipedes (plastic ones, of course) crawling about the table, with a fair number of tiny spiders crawling along the cobwebs on the wall and on our chairs.  Marvellous.

Tiger did all the decorating, by the way.

Then, it's time to await the grand entrance of the boy wizard, who flew in on his homemade broomstick,

but not before zooming around the room to the music of Mussorsky:

Normally at poetry tea here, we sit around to eat and drink, and take turns to read out a few poems to each other.  This time, we listened to the recitation of The Highwayman a few times instead:

This particular poem has been specially chosen to go with our Halloween Tea for its haunting theme, and atmospheric rendition of a fatal situation.  The poem is a long one and it requires careful listening to appreciate its beauty and rhythm.

As an aside,  some of you have asked me how much effort it takes for me to pull all the various themes together.  Well, the following situation answers the question:

When Tortoise came home from work and saw our Halloween Tea Party arrangement, he was very impressed and commented on how much effort it must have taken to put it all together.  Tiger replied casually, "Oh, it took no effort at all!  We decided this morning that we wanted to have tea, so we went to the supermarket, got a few bits and threw them together.  There's nothing to it."

There you have it, folks.  According to the boy who's with me almost 24/7 and who witnesses how everything gets done around here , apparently it takes little to no effort at all.  Thus, in my son's eyes, I'm indeed a lady of leisure.  Splendid.

This post is linked up to:
  1. Hip Homeschool Hop - 10/21/14
  2. Finishing Strong - Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years #34
  3. Hearts for Home Blog Hop #88
  4. Collage Friday - Cultivating Beauty and Wonder In Your Homeschool
  5. Weekly Wrap-Up: Ancient Egypt, Blue Hair, and Plant Dissections


  1. LOL, Hwee - what a treat of a post! I'm still smiling. Your Halloween feast is very impressive. And what a good idea to read The Highwayman - very atmospheric. We read The Wreck of the Hesperus at our poetry tea, which is a bit wintery but still vaguely seasonal. I think it's probably a credit to you that what you do appears effortless to Tiger. ;-)

    I relate to your efforts with pumpkin soup. Keep at it - one day it might be Tiger's favourite soup and he'll tell the story to his children! I'm the same with butternut squash. I tell the children they should try these things because their tastebuds are changing all the time. This week I served J(9) "carrot soup" (he loves carrots). However with much apology he said he couldn't eat it because it tasted funny. Oops, he detected the butternut squash I'd added - that'll teach me! :-D

    Thank you for linking to my post. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

    1. Tiger is 10 years old, which puts him in the 'young and clueless' category. :-)

      Your stealth butternut squash soup story is a funny one! :-) Isn't it amazing how acutely sensitive a child's tastebud is, when you don't want it to be! On the bright side, having such a sensitive taste bud puts him in good stead to be a food connoisseur! :-)

  2. What an excellent tea! I love the pumpkins. I think I will actually buy one of those kits this year. I seem to have lost all the pieces over the last few years and using a big kitchen knife really is scary.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. I find the kit to be very child-friendly so I feel more at ease when Tiger was using the serrated saw to carve the pumpkins.

      I just discovered your new blog, Dawn! Going over to catch up with your news now. :-)

      Have a good weekend!

  3. So funny Hwee!
    I particularly like Tigers response of 'no effort at all' !! If only they knew....

    1. It just goes to show how much more he needs to learn about how things actually work! :-)

  4. HOw fun! Love the pumpkin carving...talent for sure! What fun to have a Halloween Tea!

    1. Thanks, Melissa. I hope you'll have fun this week for Halloween too. It's a much bigger celebration in the USA. :-)

  5. It's just a few bits here and there, no problem.... The casual disregard of kids always amuses me.

    1. Luckily, their youth makes a good excuse for their igorance! It does make me laugh though. :-)

  6. Fantastic, love the pumpkin carvings

    1. Thanks, Paula. Hope you have a good Halloween/half-term week! :-)

  7. I tried to make pumpkin soup for my family a few years ago. (I even made bread cut out in leaf shapes). My kids hated it. They still ask me NOT to make it ever again. So much for that hoped for tradition! We'll have to focus on pumpkin bread and muffins instead. ;)

    1. For some reason, pumpkin soup seems to be an either love it or hate it kind of soup. :-) Well, at least we've tried to introduce it to our families! I made pumpkin muffins before and they were not well received either, so I think my family just does not like to eat pumpkin in any form!


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