I think the driving force behind my short lived acting career was the opportunity to wear costumes and special effects make-up. Once that dream was fulfilled, my thespian passions waned. Premium member Lane

Actress Julie Anne Rhodes

Buckman is clearly no slouch in the costume department either. I do however, lack skill in carving jack-o-lanterns, so I asked Lane to come to my rescue with advice on creating one, or two, or three ….

Neighbors gone wild again

By Lane Buckman

Fall being my favorite season, and October my favorite month, it stands to reason that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Planning my costumes was an adventure that started in September since my mother treated every sewing project as couture, which assured me a runway worthy outfit.  No simple ears and tails for me. When I was a cat, I had velveteen paw pads and claws, and whiskers sewn into my headpiece.  When I was a princess, I had Chanel style chain sewn into my hemline for just the right swing. When I was Raggedy Ann… You get the picture.

Lane in action as the Ghost Bride, Jack Sparrow, and Ragedy Ann

As an adult, I spent just as much time mulling over my scare-wear, and certainly enjoyed the highs of winning more than a few costume contests. I thought that Halloween was going to be as memorable a bonding experience for my son and me -I’ve been trying to get him into complex costumes since he was two-months-old.

“Thor” as Vikings and a lobster

Sadly, he’s more of a Christmas kind of guy, and Halloween (beyond the limited amount of candy haul he is allowed to inhale) leaves him cold.  He always begs for costumes that come in baggies, and could not care less about decorations.

“How about just plain pumpkin face?”

This year, I had hoped he would have more fun carving our pumpkins.  Years prior he has abandoned me in the gutting process of gouging our gourds, bored beyond planning the patterns for their faces.  We talked about what he might like for our jack-o-lanterns and he said, “How about just plain pumpkin face?”  And we went to work. One butcher knife, two paring knives, an ice cream scoop, a Sharpie, rubber gloves, plastic bag, and wipes and we were ready to go.  Just as soon as my son realized he wasn’t going to get to wield the butcher knife, he wandered off back into the living room to watch a re-run of Mythbusters. I was left to go it alone.

Getting down to business

When you make your cuts to the cap of your jack-o-lantern, be sure to slant the knife in toward the stem.  If you make your cuts straight up and down, the cap will fall into the gourd.  The slant makes it fit like a little puzzle piece. Because I have issues with dirty fingernails, I wear gloves when I gut the pumpkin, and I use an ice cream scoop to do most of the dirty work.  Be careful not to cut too much of the meat out of the side walls of your gourd, or your design won’t hold.  The gourd will always shrivel slightly where you’ve cut it.  If the walls are too thin, you’ll end up with major shrinkage that could ruin the look of your hard work. (Not that I have a Jack-o-lantern sitting on my patio that looks like I took out its dentures, or anything.)

Maestro back at work

Thor (my son’s nickname) reappeared when it was time to carve the faces into our pumpkins.  I started the cuts and let him wiggle the paring knife a little to help.  We draw the pattern on with a Sharpie, then cut along the lines.  I find that it is easiest to cut out little pieces at a time. I get a nicer line that way, and don’t run as much risk of adding my fingertips to the piles of discarded gourd.

By the perfect pair of pumpkin carving partners

We ended up with a couple of cute pumpkins to add to our trove of memories.  I really love coming up the walk to see our jack-o-lanterns smiling from the café table. It just makes me happy.

Hope this helps you with your Halloween preparations. Luckily my acting skills did not go to complete waste – I still tell spellbinding ghost stories! Jewels xo

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