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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  • October 11, 2011
    9:39 am

    You look superb in old fashion garb, works really well w/ your complexion and hair.

    • October 11, 2011
      11:12 am

      Anyone would look great in Elizabeth Emanuel costumes with professional hair and make-up, but thank you!

  • October 11, 2011
    10:40 am

    Got to say that “Thor” in lobster costume made me smile.
    I have always admire people who go all out for Halloween and Comic-con even. As far as carving goes I probably have the same attention span as Thor does when it comes to pumpkins unless of course it is in pie form.

    • October 11, 2011
      11:13 am

      Me too on both accounts. Isn’t he beyond adorable though?

    • October 19, 2011
      9:41 am

      Thank you! I’m partial to him.

      • October 19, 2011
        9:46 am

        Let me know when you need a babysitter – I have a feeling he is as many laughs as his mother is.

  • October 11, 2011
    11:24 am

    My experience is just the opposite of Lane’s. I’ve gotten into Halloween because my daughter loves it! Every year, we have to have complementary costumes. Last year, she was sleeping beauty and I was Maleficent. (I asked to be one of the good fairies and was informed — “No mommy. You’re maleficent!” Thanks kid.)

    This year, she is a vampire, I’m a black cat, and daddy is a monk!

    As for carving pumpkins, I do the gutting and daddy and the princess do the carving. (I love roasted pumpkin seeds, so the guts are a little easier to take)

    Love your costumes (both JulieAnne and Lane)! Have fun!

    • October 11, 2011
      12:42 pm

      I LOVE the family that dresses up together idea! Those will create magical memories that will stay with her forever.

    • October 19, 2011
      9:42 am

      I would LOVE to be Maleficent. Best headgear EVER!

      • October 19, 2011
        9:44 am

        Hahaha – that was weird – I was just emailing Antony Price when you made this comment, and he adored her when the film came out.

  • October 11, 2011
    7:04 pm

    I love the baby photos! Like photos of my own girls in their first Halloween costumes, Thor has the same look on his face my two did in their first Halloween photos… “this isn’t a onesie” Love the idea of the ice cream scoop too… Thank you!

    • October 12, 2011
      2:40 pm

      ROTFLMAO missy!

  • October 11, 2011
    12:34 pm

    How wonderful to have grown up with a mother prepared to spend so much time making exquisite creations for you. My mother was the same but sadly, I didn’t get the sewing gene.

    • October 11, 2011
      12:41 pm

      My mother wouldn’t know a sewing machine from a vacuum, but she had great closets to raid. My favorite was dressing up as Samantha in Bewitched using her black negligees, blond wig, and tons of her make-up.

    • October 19, 2011
      9:42 am

      I am very fortunate to have my mom. I was terrified of that Raggedy Ann doll she made me, though!

  • October 12, 2011
    11:26 am

    The angled cut around the stem is key! Nice reminder… I’m decorating this weekend. I can hardly wait!

    • October 12, 2011
      2:42 pm

      Oh, the joy of little ones to decorate for. I’m like that about Christmas regardless, but Halloween lost it’s luster for me once Tatjana grew up. Hopefully grandchildren will remedy my apathy one day in the not too distant future.

  • October 13, 2011
    3:59 am

    Little pie pumpkins can have the lid carved out and the pumpkin used as a “vase” to hold flowers. Cut out your lid and gut the pumpkin as usual. The opening needs to be large enough to allow a plastic take out container to sit in. Place a piece of oasis in this (available at most craft stores) and arrange some fresh flowers in your pumpkin vase. Stick a bamboo skewer into the pumpkin lid and work it into your arrangement. If kept in a cool spot, this arrangement can easily last a week to ten days. Ahhh, memories of my florist years. :)

    • October 13, 2011
      4:23 pm

      What a brilliant idea Ruthee, I’ll be using that as a Thanksgiving centerpiece this year, thank you!

    • October 19, 2011
      9:43 am

      How clever! I will try that!

  • October 12, 2011
    10:24 pm

    Aww he looks so adorable helping there! I’ve never carved a pumpkin-they’ve started to get them in stores here and I saw the first ones last year!

    • October 13, 2011
      4:23 pm

      Oooh, will have to send you some pumpkin recipes to try then!

  • October 13, 2011
    7:49 am

    I forgot to mention… I usually cut the bottom out instead of the stem part. WAY too many burns sticking my hand in to light the candle. It’s not my idea… it was Martha Stewart’s LOL If you check my kitchen, I also have the dish soap in the glass bottle with liquor shot stopper – the true sign a Martha freak lives in the house. We usually need to be medicated ;)

    • October 13, 2011
      4:24 pm

      We love Martha freaks here!

    • October 19, 2011
      9:44 am

      SMART! Oooh, thank you for that idea!