DIY: Painted Shiba Pumpkins

It’s officially the season of pumpkin and cinnamon-spiced-everything! Even though I’m actually not a fan of either (sorry, hardcore Fall people), I’ve always loved decorating the house with pumpkins to celebrate the beginning of the holidays. While the tradition at our house has always been to carve a pumpkin, I thought I’d try my hand at painting one (or rather, three) this year. And let me tell you, it was so much fun I might just be painting them every year from now on. (Plus, they last longer too!) Modeled after our Fox & Bagel Shiba sticker patches, this painted Shiba pumpkins DIY is super easy and guaranteed to make your front doorstep the cutest one on the block this Halloween when the trick or treaters come a-knocking.

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Materials

Pumpkins (I used orange pumpkins for the red and black & tan Shibas and a white pumpkin for the cream Shiba)
Acrylic Paint in Black, Orange and White
Foam Brush (for large areas)
Paint Brush (for details)
Uncoated Plain Cardboard (I used an old packaging box)
Scissors
Toothpicks
Clear Tape

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Directions

Prepare your work area with newspaper or plastic.

Take your pumpkin and look for it’s best angle. This will be your Shiba pumpkin’s face. Sketch on the details (eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks) lightly with a white pen or oil pencil to help guide you as you start painting. Use the foam brush to paint on the base color: black for a black and tan Shiba and orange for a red Shiba. I decided to leave my white pumpkin as it because I really loved it’s original, creamy white color! Some white pumpkins are a little more on the yellow side, so you may choose to paint over those if you wish.

Wait for the base color to completely dry before painting on the white cheeks. Once the white cheeks are completely dry, then paint on the eyes, nose and mouth. Although you will probably be tempted to carry on painting (I am totally guilty of this), this step is super important as you don’t want your paint colors to blend together and create a brownish, grayish mess on your pumpkin.

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As your pumpkins dry, it’s now time to work on the ears. Take your cardboard pieces and sketch out two triangular ear shapes with a pencil. Use scissors or an X-Acto knife to cut them out. You will most likely have to make adjustments to the curved part where the ear meets the pumpkin as each pumpkin will have different grades of roundness. Paint the ears and wait for it to dry.

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When both the pumpkin and cardboard ears are completely dry, do some test ear placements on your pumpkin and make any final adjustments to the curved, bottom part. Stick the toothpicks into the pumpkin where you want the ears to be placed and use a small piece of clear tape to secure them on.

And that’s all there is to it! A simple and festive DIY for any Shiba lover. Happy Fall days, everyone!

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(Hoku’s definitely thinking there’s something a little odd about the three new Shibas that showed up to our house over the weekend, but can’t exactly place his paw on it.)

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September in Review

Here are some scenes from our September around here. I’ve been trying to be a little more proactive about putting down the phone, being present and embracing this thing called JOMO (joy of missing out) which as a natural introvert, turned out I was already pretty good at. With my sister in town to help me with some things, it was also nice to just hanging out, eating homemade bread and pastries (a shared love), and spend entire mornings talking about nothing at all over coffee (another shared love), because that’s what sisters do best.

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At the start of the month, I felt motivated, for approximately 30 minutes, to work on organizing/redesigning my office bookshelf. This is as far as I got. Does anyone have shelf styling tips for finding that perfect balance between aesthetic and utility? I’d love to display knick knacks/ tchotckes and books side by side in a way that says “Come read/interact/play” instead of “Please don’t touch and ruin this perfect #shelfie” which is the vibe I get from a lot of design inspo office tours. Can something refined and look put together and also lived-in, loved, and useful? Hoku finds my musings uninspiring.

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Meanwhile, the garden actually did get a much needed Fall refresh. We said thank you and goodbye to our beloved watermelon patch, sweet peppers, and eggplant - which believe it or not, was still going strong. I found it so ironic that the best summer producer in our garden was the veggie we were least fond of. That’s right, we actually don’t like eggplant! I thought that if we grew it ourselves, maybe we’d change our minds about it. (And we did make a few dishes, which were actually not bad.) But by the end of August, we were swimming in eggplant with no end in sight and I couldn’t do it anymore. Still, a successful experiment in trying something new.

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I love those weekends when the three of us spend an entire morning at the nursery, followed by an entire afternoon working side by side amending the garden bed and planting new veggies. Well, two of us. Hoku supervised. We planted parsley (David wants to make Pasta Aglio e Olio from one of my favorite movies, Chef), tatsoi, broccoli, kohlrabi, bok choy, snow peas, brussels sprouts and bibb lettuce. Leafy greens season is my favorite.

We also had every intention of dusting off our homemade grow light and getting some seeds going, but we never actually got around it. Which we all know is just a euphemism for, we got hella lazy.

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The last of our sweet peppers went into a yummy pasta. And we haven’t turned over our tomatoes yet since they seem to be hanging on, but they are definitely the least happy about it being Fall.

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August In Review

How's it going? August was exactly the chill month we needed after a pretty hectic summer. David and I celebrated 6 years happily married by going to the Ed Sheeran concert at the iconic Rose Bowl. We’re usually more intimate, sit-down venue kind of people (think drinking beer on a lawn or small, round table with an Old Fashioned) so it was fun but also slightly overwhelming to attend a production on that scale alongside 62,000 other concert goers. So yeah, I think we both agreed it fulfilled our one obligatory, quintessentially LA social experience for the year. Nothing like a special occasion to break out of daily routine and try something new.

Here are the quieter scenes around these parts.

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Can you believe that we got through August without a single heatwave? For once, Fall actually felt like well, Fall. And if you’ve been following along on Instagram Stories, our watermelon patch continued to be a scene of much excitement. We began the month with three watermelon friends, but we sadly ended up losing one to a thieving critter. It was still fairly small and from past experience, the little, unripe ones seemed to go mostly unbothered since they weren't exactly sweet and tasty yet. Not this time. After discovering that it had been gnawed clean off the vine, I found its sad remains in the corner of the garden, completely hallowed out, surrounded by chewed up pieces of watermelon shell. It happened right under Hoku’s nose too! Sneaky little fellas.

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So then I had this idea to create a protective cage of some sort using hardware mesh, wire clippers and heavy duty gloves. In hindsight, I probably should have thought through the design a little more but I essentially ended up with a vertical, wire mesh cylinder tower. I covered the sharp ends with duct tape and carefully slipped the cage over the melon, making sure not to damage the stem. And finally, for good measure, I scattered Hoku fur balls and sprayed garlic + chili pepper infused water throughout the patch. (One website suggested fox urine, which guess what, is available through Amazon freaking Prime, but I’ll be saving that option for more desperate times.)

So out of six potential watermelons, we are now down to two, both protected by my makeshift cages. As we head into Fall, I'm fairly certain that our patch is nearing its final days. The leaves are not looking so hot. So all fingers and paws crossed that these two make it to the end so we can have a happy ending to this riveting watermelon saga. 

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↑ By the way, here are our very first melons from the patch that had cracked from the heatwaves that hit us in July. Just in case you’ve ever wondered what a little, unripe melon looked like on the inside. Basically, it is all rind.

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In the kitchen, we’ve officially rediscovered the joys of the Kitchenaid mixer. It was my mom’s and it had been boxed up in the garage for years because I was so worried about having to sacrifice more of the counter space we had available in our little kitchen. But let me tell you, my only regret is not taking it out sooner. Kneading bread and making fresh pasta has never been easier. No more sore arms for us.

Our new favorite weekend lunch is a super simple pasta with freshly picked sun gold tomatoes and basil from the garden, with a touch of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also tried making pineapple buns (a childhood favorite) for the first time. I used my usual Hokkaido milk bread recipe for the bun and added the crust from this recipe here. So it’s a bit lighter than the traditional Tangzhong milk bread, which has a buttery dough, but it still tastes amazing and makes the entire house smell like a Hong Kong bakery.

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And of course, I can’t forget to mention our epic fire lookout adventure that kicked off August. When Nacho’s parents invited us to join them for a weekend on a historic fire lookout in the Sequoia National Forest, one that they had booked 6 months in advance, the obvious answer was hell yeah. But as irony would have it, we indeed saw a wildfire from the lookout and had to make the difficult decision to evacuate only a few hours after arriving and setting up camp. The lookout was 45 minutes on off-road terrain from the main highway, which had the potential of being cut off by the fire and stranding us on the mountains. Not an ideal scenario to find oneself in during fire season when firefighting resources were already strained. We ended up making it back down the mountain just as the sky turned to black, which accentuated the eery faint glow of fiery orange in the distance.

And that is how 4 humans and 2 pups ended up eating and laughing over fried chicken strips, tater tots and ice cream at a Sonic’s Drive-In at 10pm in the middle of who-knows-where in Bakersfield. Not the epic adventure planned but still good times with awesome company.

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That’s been our August in a nutshell! Is it too early to start thinking about Hoku’s Halloween costume this year? I mean, after Shibe Jobs and Shi-Boba, what else is there to do? ;)