Monday, October 31, 2011

Have a Happy Halloween and be safe too!

Although in Malta we have very few areas where children go trick or treating, it is important that we always street proof our kids for any occasion when they are out in the streets with their friends.
For those of you whose children may be trick or treating this evening please make sure they are safe on the are
some safety tips to read and follow and some more here and here and here.

Make this a safe and happy experience!

Spooky house graphic is from shared files

Trick or treat bag graphic is from

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Comments on my Blog

Some of you have alerted me about having problems with posting comments on my blog. I have re-adjusted some settings and hope that this will solve the problem so please don't give up contacting me and commenting on my posts.
My Blog is not the same without you! I hope you will continue to colour my posts with your feedback and comments.
Thank you!

Tags are from shared files.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Make your Jack o'lantern Eco Friendly

And now that you have decided to make your Jack o' Lantern, remember to be Eco friendly so... click on each item for great ideas and recipes...

Roast those pumpkin seeds A great healthy snack!

Make a delicious pumpkin soup And don't forget to add your cinnamon and nutmeg! Yummy!!!

OK so you're not that keen on soup or pumpkin pie, how about one of these 35 desserts then? Just click on the arrow on each picture to go through the recipes.

So now you have no excuse! You can make use of all the pumpkin, inside and out!
And finally don't throw your well enjoyed Jack o' Lantern away, throw it on your compost pile and if you don't have one, donate it to your favourite farmer.

In case you go berserk about Pumpkins this fall, here is a site that tells you how to prepare and freeze fresh pumpkins.

Please feel free to add your own ideas and comments in the Comments section.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Made Easy and Fun! ~Part 2~

If you have followed the first steps in getting your pumpkin ready, now you can start getting ready for the next step...

Carving your design.

Attach your own or printed design to the flattest side of your pumpkin by using thumbtacks or masking tape. **Tip** If your pattern is too big or too small for the pumpkin you chose, use a copy machine to enlarge or reduce the pattern size.

Once the pattern is in place, use a punch tool to outline each shape of your design. Poke the tool along the edge of each shape, spacing the holes about 1/8-inch apart. DO NOT press hard; all you want is a small indentation to transfer the outline.
Remove your pattern once you have made sure you have not missed any spots. Keep handy for visual aid.

If you have opted to draw your own or your kid's design directly on the pumpkin, work slowly as you copy each shape to avoid making mistakes.

In order that you can see the outline better rub some baking powder or flour over all your pin-point dot design so that the design stands out better. Now you can connect the dots with your sharpie or outliner and voila' you can see your design and it is ready for cutting.

Cutting the shapes

Use a long nail or punch to start your design thus making a starting point where you can insert the blade without cutting too much into the design. Turn and push until it’s all the way into the pumpkin, then remove. Do this every time you start a new shape (eyes, nose, mouth) in your design. This makes it easier for you to work your way through using your knife. Using this as your starting point now work your way through your design steadily sawing in an even direction.

Maintain light pressure and use a gentle sawing motion to cut through the rind. Steady the pumpkin with your free hand, which should be kept well away from the blade. When making curves, just slightly turn the blade. When making sharp corners, remove the knife and re-insert it at an angle.

To remove the pieces you cut, you may find it easier to push them out from the inside. If the cutout refuses to budge, check that all of your cuts meet at corners, and that the blade has cut all the way through the rind. In some cases, you may need to gentle pry out the shape with a butter knife. For larger pieces, you may want to cut them into smaller bits and remove them in sections.

Cleaning Up

For maximum effect of brightness, trim the inside walls of the cutouts so they are straight and even. Also remove stray fibers and strands around the inside edges of your shapes.

Safety First

Place desired candle inside or a pumpkin light which is safer, light and place lid back on top.
  • Light the candle and place it on a piece of tinfoil inside the pumpkin. Put the lid on. Let it sit a minute...
  • Remove the lid and there should be a smoke mark on it
  • Cut a vent in the lid where the smoke mark shows

Enjoy your pumpkin carving and
a Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Carving Made Easy and Fun! ~Part 1~

This post is meant for those who have never carved a pumpkin before or who have had difficulties in carving one. I am by no means a professional but have carved a fair number for our kids and have gathered a few tips to make this job easier and fun! So are you ready, let's go...

Pick your Pumpkin

Firstly, of course you need to buy a pumpkin! Choosing the right one is very important. I would suggest you find a round medium-sized one which sits well on the ground and is stable. It would look nicer and be easier to work with if it includes a bit of stem, especially if you will be removing the seeds through the top. Another feature to look for and which would help immensely when you get to the carving part is that your pumpkin has a gently curved face and is free of soft spots or breaks and blemishes in the skin.

OK so now you know which pumpkin to choose you can go out with your kids and make your choice at a supermarket or even a pumpkin farm if you know of one. This could even be an opportunity for younger kids to connect with nature and learn how pumpkins are grown. But even if you find yourself making a last-minute run to the supermarket or wayside stand, your family can have a blast picking the perfect pumpkin.

Assemble Your Tools

You will most probably find the basic tools you need among your common household items. These are:

A cutting tool: a sharp serrated knife will do but of course needless to say this is a job for you not your young ones. While doing this job you can get them involved in choosing a pattern from here or here. Or you can have them draw their own pattern if they are good at this.

A scraper: or large kitchen spoon for scraping out the seeds and pulp.

A punch: use a nail or awl to transfer a paper pattern to the pumpkin. Just place the paper on the side where you will carve the face (sticking with tape or pinning it down with thumb tacks). Trace by punching your paper pattern along the outline.

Pattern: whether you create your own design or use a ready made pattern, it's best to have your design on paper rather than draw it directly on the pumpkin. That way, you can change your design easily without trying to erase marks on the pumpkin. However, if you feel the design is simple enough you can copy the outline using a crayon (which you can wipe off if you make an error). This way you will not need to stick the paper to the pumpkin.
I suggest using one of the easier face patterns. As I said earlier, if your kids can draw why not let them design the face pattern and work around it. To make carving easier, the cutouts should be large, simple shapes with plenty of space between them. Besides the pattern link under A Cutting Tool (see above), here are two more faces this time from Kaboose for you to print. You can also search the web for "free pumpkin carving patterns" or "free pumpkin carving stencils."

Masking Tape: use this adhesive tape if you need to attach your pattern to the pumpkin.

Baking Powder (or flour) and outliner (or sharpie) : You can rub this powder over the holes you made earlier when you traced the outline with your punch (see above). It will make it easier for you to see the pattern when you outline it with your outliner or sharpie.

Table covering: To protect your work surface from mess and for easier cleanup, cover it with newspaper or an old table cloth.

A Bowl or Colander: for scooping the seeds/pulp into when cleaning out the pumpkin.

Cutting the Lid

Place your pumpkin on some newspapers. Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin, using your cutting knife making about a 6 inch wide circular lid. Make the cut at an angle by keeping the tip of the blade pointed toward the centre of the pumpkin. This creates a bevel and will prevent the top from falling through when you place it back on. Work slowly with an even sawing motion and use only light pressure.

Cleaning out the Pumpkin

This is the messiest and most probably the most enjoyable part of this project. It will be quite an easy job to remove all the seeds, strings and the rest of the pulp using a scraper or large spoon. Do not throw the seeds can rinse them later and roast them.
Scrape some of the flesh from the inside so your pumpkin is about an inch thick all the way around (or at least wherever you’ll be carving). You can poke a straight pin through it to estimate the thickness. Save the flesh for making pumpkin pie or soups.

Include a small notch in your lid. This will make it easier to replace it with the correct orientation.

L**k out for Part 2
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