Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ten Steps to a Successful Pumpkin Carving

To see my tips for having a more adult-oriented Halloween, stop by Taryn Cox THE WIFE to check out my suggestions.

1. Pick out pumpkins that are shaped well for carving, whether you prefer smooth globes for happy faces or misshapen blobs for monstrous visages.
2. Spread out old newspapers on a big table or on the floor and get ready to carve.
3. Have the following items handy:
     a. Large bowls for the pulp.
     b. Small bowls for saving the seeds.
     c. Large serving spoons for scooping out the inside of the pumpkins.
     d. Carving tools.
     e. Paper towels for wiping hands and cleaning off the pumpkin's face.
     f. Felt-tip pen for drawing the design on the pumpkin.
     g. Candles.
4. Draw a circle around the top that you will cut to open the pumpkin, making sure it is big enough to reach inside to clean the pumpkin. Alternatively, cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin; that way, you can easily light a candle in a candle holder or on a plate, then carefully lower the carved pumpkin over the candle - avoiding the timeless annoyance of lighting a candle through the top of the gourd.
5. Clean out the inside of the pumpkin thoroughly, taking out the pulp and separating the pulp from the seeds. Save the seeds for cleaning later and then roasting for a delicious fall snack!
6. Pick the side of the pumpkin that has the most personality. Sometimes dimples and imperfections on a pumpkin's face can add real character and individuality to a jack-o-lantern.
7. Sketch out the design of the face on a sheet of paper, then use a black felt-tip pen to copy the design directly onto the pumpkin.
8. Carve cautiously. Even if your child is mature enough to carve on her own, make sure to watch closely. If you have younger children, let them be the scoopers and the separators of the seed and the pulp (they'll have a grand time with the goop and gore), or put them in charge of drawing the design on the paper.
9. When carved, place your pumpkins outside near your front door. Make sure they are not exposed to rain or other elements, which could cause them to mold and break down more quickly. I use stools, benches, and small wooden foot rests to make different levels of display. If you have stairs that lead up to your home, place a pumpkin or to on each step leading to your front door.
10. Clean up the mess. Have a large plastic garbage bag nearby to throw all the pulp and discarded shards of pumpkin into. Save the bowl of seeds and take them to the kitchen.


One last thing: make sure to carve the pumpkin just before October 31st so they don't become moldy and collapse - unless that's the look you want! Three days is a good window of time to ensure fresh, crisp pumpkins that will hold up through Halloween evening.

Happy Halloween!

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