DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011


   Offbeat pumpkins are stealing the spotlight from ordinary varieties.

Green Goblin pumpkin

Green Goblin

Origin: An heirloom from Chioggia, Italy; also called sea pumpkin but most commonly sold as ‘Marina di Chioggia’.

Design cred: Knobby blue-green skin has frosty highlights.

Can you eat it? You definitely should! It’s delicious cut into wedges, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and herbs, and roasted until tender.

Cinderella pumpkin


Origin: An heirloom from France; also sold as ‘Rouge Vif d’Etampes’.

Design cred: It’s easy to see how the softly flattened top and ridged, deep orange skin could have inspired Cinderella’s carriage in Charles Perrault’s classic French fairy tale.

Can you eat it? Yes, the rich orange flesh is tasty in pies.

Mini Fairytale pumpkin

Mini Fairytale

Origin: A miniature version of an heirloom from France.

Design cred: It’s small (less than 3 pounds) and smooth, and its green skin ripens to orange-tan.

Can you eat it? Sure, in pies. You can also make soup; reserve the top and the hollowed-out shell to use as a pretty serving bowl.

'La Estrella' pumpkin

'La Estrella'

Origin: A tropical calabaza hybrid from Florida.

Design cred: Subtle orange skin is splashed with soft green and tan.

Can you eat it? Yes, the orange flesh is good in soups, purées, and pies, or you can slice and roast it.


   A number of symbols help us recognize St. Nicholas. They developed from his most popular stories and customs.

A special tall pointed hat worn by a bishop. The miter is a general symbol for bishops, but it is unique to St. Nicholas among holiday gift-givers. (also mitre)

A hooked staff carried by a bishop; represents a shepherd's staff as the bishop is to be the shepherd of the people, as Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Again, a crozier is a general symbol for bishops, but unique to Nicholas among gift-givers. (also crosier)

Gold BallsThree Gold Balls
Represent the gold given to provide dowries for the impoverished maidens. Nicholas' gold balls became the pawnbroker's symbol. Sometimes oranges or apples are used to represent the gold.

Gold coinsGold Coins
Another way of representing the gold given as dowries.

Money BagsMoney Bags
Usually three, but sometimes one, represent the gold thrown into the house to provide dowry money.

MaidensThree Maidens
The three young women who received the gold dowry money.

Children in TubChildren In Tub
Show Nicholas as the protector of children, from the story rescuing young children or students from the evil butcher or innkeeper. Usually three children are in the tub, but sometimes only two are present.

Often shown with St. Nicholas because he is their patron saint.

Symbolizes the close association St. Nicholas has with sailors, ships, and the sea.

Represents Nicholas' relationship with ships and sailors.

This large book is the Book of the Gospels or the Holy Scriptures. In some European gift-giving traditions the large book is the recordbook of children's behavior.

Shoe with carrotShoes
Children put carrots, turnips, or hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas' horse or donkey. St. Nicholas replaces them with treats. So shoes filled with things for his horse or donkey or shoes with children's treats are symbols for St. Nicholas.

Which symbols can you find in these Saint Nicholas pictures?

Four symbols: St Nicholas, Ashchurch, UK

Seven symbols:Block print by Marlene Reidel, 1985

Four symbols:TCM Phonecard

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


   Holiday shopping figures are often viewed as significant indicators of the current economic climate, and Halloween is no exception. This year, the Halloween shopping numbers have climbed out of the grave they were in last year and returned to the levels they were at in 2008. And with more and more people buying their Halloween items online, this is good news for both our economy and the e-commerce sector as a whole.

(Click Image To Enlarge)






   The first race meeting held at the newly formed township of Birdsville, situated on the Diamantina River, eight miles north of the South Australian border, was held on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd of September (1882), and was largely attended, nearly 150 station owners, managers, stockmen, and other employees being present. The weather was delightful, the entrances for the various events good, and the finishes in most of the races close and exciting. Nearly 200 pounds was raised by public subscription, which speaks well for the prosperous condition of the district.
   The settling took place in Mr Tucker’s hotel, where the amounts were paid over to the respective winners, the usual toasts proposed and duly responded to, after which a meeting was held in Messrs. Burt and Co.’s large iron store, when a jockey club was formed, to be called the “Border Jockey Club”, forty-two names being enrolled as members. Stewards were appointed, a working committee elected, and the next race meeting fixed for July, 1883″.

The Birdsville Races

   Birdsville's busiest week of the year occurs in September. Visitors converge on this tiny outback town from all parts of Australia and the World on the first Saturday in September for the Annual Birdsville Racing Carnival over two days (Friday and Saturday).
   The first race meeting was held in 1882 as an event for hack and stock horses with a few local spectators. The carnival now includes a 12-race program and prize money in excess of $110 000. The XXXX Gold Birdsville Cup is a much sought after trophy and is famous throughout the world.
   Situated three kilometres to the South East of the town the track itself is on a claypan alongside the sand dunes. The track is 2000m in circumference with the longest race, 1600m XXXX Gold Birdsville Cup starting in the back straight. All starts are on the course proper with the exception of the 1000m, which starts from a chute. Birdsville is one of four tracks in Queensland that run anti-clockwise
   Crowds of over 6000 racegoers celebrate the carnival each year enjoying two days of quality outback racing and two great nights of live entertainment. Other entertainment includes the AKUBRA Fashions of the Field, Fred Brophy's Boxing Troupe, whip cracking, sideshows, a giant auction and much more. Great entertainment, class horseracing and premium hospitality makes for a fantastic week in the heart of Australia's outback.

Interesting Facts of Yesteryear

  • Professional riders carried a 7lb penalty.
  • Special races were held for horses bred within 250 miles of Birdsville.
  • For a fee of 10 pounds owners could lead their own horses into the saddling enclosure.
  • Steplechase races were programmed when racing was conducted on the old course three miles to the west of town. This course was abandoned after regularly being inundated with floodwaters.
  • Prizemoney for the cup has varied from 500 pounds in the 1880’s to 50 pounds in the 1940’s, $5000 in 1982 for the Centenary Cup and has now reached $30,000.
  • A bell was rung as horses left the enclosure and connections fined 10 shillings for horses not at the starting post within 5 minutes.
  • Separate race were programmed for corn fed and grass fed horses.
  • Star Ace the 1970 winner in the absence of a horse float was trotted up the Birdsville Track beside the trainer’s vehicle.
  • Races were once started by the drop of a hat, later by strand barriers and now with barrier stalls.
  • Club was originally titled the 'Border Jockey Club' later becoming the ‘Birdsville Amateur Turf Club’. In subsequent years and to incorporate the Betoota race meeting it was changed to the 'Diamantina Amateur Race Club'. In 1990 it separated from Betoota and became the ‘Birdsville Race Club Incorporated’.
  • Unregistered horses were only allowed to start in Hack races.
  • Prior to 1954 with exception of the cup, prizemoney was only paid for 1st and second placegetters.

  • The cup distance has remained 1 mile or 1600 meters since its first running in 1882. In 1949 and 1950 the ‘Hospital Handicap’ (1 mile) was run in lieu of the Cup. Meetings were held then to raise funds for the construction of the Birdsville Hospital.
  • The annual race meeting is now held to raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
  • With the exception of a period during World War II the Birdsville Races have only ever been cancelled on one occasion. This occurred in 2007 when the outbreak of Equine Influenza in Queensland and New South Wales (in the week prior to the races) saw a complete ban on horse movement. As a result horses were unable to travel to Birdsville and the horse races were cancelled. Entertainment and festivities did continue throughout the weekend despite the lack of horses.

   Birdsville is a small outback town situated on the banks of the Diamantina River between the sands of the Simpson Desert and the gibbers of Sturts Stony Desert. The area is steeped in history, from aboriginal meeting places to European settlement in the late 1870s and beyond.
   The Birdsville population currently stands at approximately 120. The town provides modern facilities for all travellers along with many thriving businesses. Comfortable accommodation and general supplies are available in the town. Facilities include:


-Caravan Park/Coffee shop


-Two service stations & General Store

-Post Office

-Working Museum

-Art gallery

-Guided Tours

-Police, Medical Clinic and Emergency Services

-Tourist Information/Library/Internet Facilities

-Airport with a sealed 1700m runway and unsealed cross-strip

Meeting for a pint after the races at the Birdsville Hotel

    'Road trains' supply the town with fresh produce and general supplies from both Adelaide (South) and Quilpie (East) on a fortnightly basis.
Airservices are provided by Macair who operate from Brisbane to Birdsville then Mt Isa and back the following day twice a week carrying both passengers and mail. From the South, Westwing Aviation operate the world's longest mail run from Port Augusta to Birdsville on a Wednesday, overnighting in Birdsville Wednesday night and Birdsville back to Pt Augusta on Thursdays, stopping at isolated outback stations along the way.
   Birdsville is located in the Temperate Zone with a generally arid climate. Rainfall average totals 160mm each year occurring mostly in summer with September being the driest month of the year. Daytime temperatures in the region reach an extreme mid 40C in the summer (November - February) down to typical desert nights of 4C in the winter. Milder daytime temperatures reach (15-35C) during the winter months.

A little boxing between races

   Summer rains produce an abundance of native grasses whilst winter rainfall results in a variety of lush herbage and attractive displays of wildflowers particularly in the Simpson Desert to the west of Birdsville.
   Approximately every three to five years Birdsville will experience a flood in the Dimantina River. The flood, as a result of extensive rains in the river catchment further to the North, results in the Diamantina bursting its banks and the river stretching out to many kilometres in width and at times flooding all access roads into Birdsville. It is not uncommon during a flood period for Birdsville to be inaccessible by road for up to three weeks.

History of Birdsville

   European settlers moved into the area in the 1870’s, looking for minerals and grazing land for cattle. Birdsville was established as a centre for stock routes for the cattle country and as a Customs collection point. In the days before federation in 1901, a toll was payable on all stock and supplies entering South Australia from Queensland.
   Birdsville was formerly known as Diamantina Crossing. Later the name Birdsville was adopted believing to be on account of the prolific bird life in the district.
   Many of Australia's pioneering European explorers travelled through the Birdsville district well before the town was gazetted. Monuments to acknowledge the feats of Captain Charles Sturt, Burke & Wills, Madigan and others are located throughout the town.

   Birdsville supported a population of over 300 at the turn of the century. The town boasted 3 hotels, a cordial factory, blacksmith store, market gardens, police and customs facilities. However following Federation in 1901 the customs depot was closed and the population slowly dwindled to approximately 50 throughout the 1950's. Livestock trade has kept the region alive and in recent times tourism has joined cattle as the major industry in the area.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


   Christmas time is right around that corner, so why not a graphic to celebrate the origins of the Christmas tree? This graphic, created by All in One Garden & Leisure, gives a rather unique look at the tree’s beginnings and its, for lack of better words,   a journey through time.


   One of the interesting stats presented by the graphic is the number of households who choose to put an artificial tree up versus a real tree taken right out of the forest (or jungle if you’re celebrating Christmas in South Africa). The pie charts in the graphic demonstrate that more people in the U.S. opt to go with a natural tree then their fellow tree buyers in the U.K. My gut reaction when I saw that stat was, “I wonder how many trees are actually grown the U.K.? Doesn’t seem like there is nearly as much land.” And sure enough, my question was answered right below that. As I suspected, there are more trees (many, many more trees actually) grown in the U.S. then there are grown in Great Britain. There are 20.8 million trees grown the U.S. and 4.4 million grown in the United Kingdom. With these kind of numbers, it does make sense that there would be a higher percentage of real Christmas trees bought in the U.S. The U.S. is more intent on destroying its forests than the U.K it would seem. The graphic notes that each acre of land dedicated to growing Christmas trees would provide the daily oxygen required for 18 people to live. Basically, the graphic does a good job of making you feel guilty about celebrating Christmas with a real tree.
   The most popular real tree brand by the way is a humdinger of a tree dubbed the Fraser Fir. The graphic showcases a little tree time line, noting that the first Christmas tree was used in Latvia in 1515 and that the explosion of Christmas trees in America began in 1901 with the under-hyped birth of the first Christmas tree farm in New Jersey. Today 98% of Christmas trees purchased around the world are grown on tree farms. Only 2% are cut in the wild. Of those that are cut in the wild, a tree farmer either uses a saw or a trained animal with sharp teeth, such as an alligator, to slowly chomp away at the tree until it falls down. We do have a bit of a worldwide tree waste problem, with 976,000 real Christmas trees thrown away each year–in London alone.
  Some other neat facts in the graphic: using electric lights on Christmas trees was first suggested by Thomas Edison’s upstart assistant, Edward Johnson, in 1882. Alright, let’s go to the grading portion now.


  San Miguel de Allende was founded in 1542 by Fray Juan de San Miguel when he built a mission to serve the many Indian groups in the area. It became known as San Miguel el Grande. The main church in town is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Naturally the town takes great pride in celebrating the Feast Day of San Miguel, the patron saint. San Miguel de Allende can put on some great Fiestas and for this one they go all out. The feast day of San Miguel is September 29 but the actual celebration can last a week or more. The modern custom is to have the major part of the Fiesta on the weekend following Sept. 29 but the actual day is also celebrated.

   San Miguel, or Saint Michael the Archangel as he is known to the English speaking world, is noted for his warrior role. When Lucifer revolted against the rule of God it was San Miguel Archangel who was sent to do battle with Lucifer and banish him to Hades. San Miguel is often invoked as a protector for troops going into battle. He is always represented with his sword and armor signifying his role in combating evil forces. San Miguel's combat with evil is acted out in the Explanada in front of the Parroquia in a grand fireworks battle that takes place just before dawn. This dawn battle gives the name to the town's celebration of its patron saint, Alborada means "dawn" in Spanish.

   While the dawn fireworks battle is the most spectacular event there is so much more to this Fiesta. The weekend is pretty much non-stop Fiesta what with the all night celebration followed the next day by all-day parades, dance performances, and processions honoring San Miguel. The evenings are full also with cultural presentations, music, and even more fireworks. The Feast of San Miguel really goes on for more than a week. Almost every day there are one or two processions carrying the image of San Miguel to various churches and shrines around the city so that san Miguel can confer his blessings on these locations. Often they are accompanied by music and dances. In the afternoons and evenings there are often dance or music shows providing first class entertainment. If you plan on taking in the Alborada Fiesta consider staying for the whole week beginning around Sept. 26. The main part of the Fiesta is on the weekend starting Friday afternoon until 6 AM Saturday, then parades and dance

performances all day Saturday until midnight. Sunday morning it starts back up then late into Sunday evening. There is really only one 8 hour rest period all weekend.
   The celebration of the Feast Day of San Miguel Arc?ngel is on 29 September but the celebration can last a week or more with the major part of the Fiesta on the weekend following September 29. The actual calendar of events can vary from year to year but it follows a general pattern. In 2008 the events of the Fiesta lasted from 26 Sept. to 5

October, a period of 10 days. The weekend is pretty much non-stop Fiesta. Friday evening it is music and dancing in the Jard?n which last until the traditional Alborada around 4 AM Saturday morning. Saturday it is a parade in the morning and various processions all day culminating in the offering of the flowers (x?chiles) in the afternoon. That evening there is a pyrotechnics show with burning Castillos and aerial fireworks.
   Sunday morning has another parade, then all day and into the evening Indian dance groups perform in the courtyard of the Parroquia and in the streets surrounding the Jard?n. That evening another pyrotechnic show caps the Fiesta.

   While the weekend is the most intense time of the Fiesta of San Miguel Arc Angel other events happen all week long. Mostly they are processions carrying the statue of San Miguel to various churches and shrines around town. There are also various presentations of dance and music. To see the entire Fiesta plan on spending a week in San Miguel de Allende - never a dull moment!

Monday, September 26, 2011


   Whip up a happy holiday with pumpkin carving ideas and tricks the neighborhood will love! I found these ideas at Sunset Magazine.  They have alot of west coast living decor and eating ideas.  Visit it at www.Sunset.com

   Show off a traditional Halloween message in a highly unusual way. Jackie Ortega, owner of San Francisco's Craft Gym, says this project is easy to pull off once you know the secret.
   Start by printing out "trick" and "treat" in bold letters on paper to use as a stencil. Center "treat" on your pumpkin and use a pushpin to dot the outline of the letters, then scoop out the pumpkin and carve between the dots (use toothpicks to hold centers of "e" and "a").
   Carving "trick" on the back is, well, trickier. Turn your stencil over and place it backward on the other side of the pumpkin ― then dot your outline and carve. Add a tea light or a tap light and beam your undercover message to the world.                                

1. Start by making a template: download and photocopy the design, sizing it to fit your pumpkin.
Free download: Get Nikki's stencil
2. Tape the template to a clean, dry, and hollowed-out pumpkin.
3. Using a pushpin, prick closely spaced holes along the outline of the design, making them deep enough to be seen when you remove the template.
4. Remove the template. Following the pinpricks and taking care not to cut all the way through, use a small carving chisel or linoleum cutter to outline the design. With a larger linoleum cutter, remove the rind within the outlines and scrape out some pumpkin flesh (the deeper you go, the more light will shine through). Add texture and dimension by varying the direction and depth of your carving.
5. Light your pumpkin. A votive candle is traditional, but for more illumination, use a battery-powered or outdoor-rated electric light (from $1.99; funkins.com); carve out a hole for the cord if necessary.
  • McClure recommends the Speedball eight-piece linoleum-cutter set ($16; danielsmith.com).
  • Variegated pumpkins look dramatic, ‘Small Sugar’ heirlooms are smaller and easy to carve.

Create door in pumpkin
Create a trap door in back to install a light source

Floating Pumpkins

Foam pumpkins are thin enough to carve with a craft knife and light enough to hang with thin wire.
Use a battery-powered "tap light," sold at most home improvement stores, for illumination.
We found our pumpkins at Michaels, a chain of craft stores (800/642-4235).

  1. In the pumpkin's back, use a craft knife to cut a hole large enough to slip in the tap light.
  2. With an awl, punch five holes in pumpkin for the laces and pull tab.
  3. Loop a piece of waxed string through the top holes and knot it to form a hinge, then loop another piece through bottom hole and knot it to make a pull.

Pumpkin House With Numbers

Select one pumpkin per house number and cut a hole in the top of each.
• Clean them out, saving the tops, and wipe exteriors dry.
• Center paper stencil number (ours was 5 inches tall) on the first pumpkin and adhere with painter's tape.
• With a marker, trace the stencil outline, then carefully carve just outside the line with a small handsaw or heavy-duty craft knife.
• Repeat for each number.
• Arrange a few tea lights inside each pumpkin, then line up or stack in proper order.
• Replace top on the highest pumpkin.
• Illuminate tea lights using a long-handled lighter through the holes.

How to make cat lanterns

Black Cat O'lanterns

Create a spooky trio of glossy black cats to watch over trick-or-treaters at your door. All you need are a few pumpkins in feline shapes ― long or pear-shaped for the body, small and round for the face.
At the pumpkin patch, look for body shapes with character and a stable base. They can lean to one side (like a cat on its haunches) but shouldn't wobble.
Choose a tall one for an elegant cat, or a squat orange heirloom for a chubby cat curled on its paws. Test a few "heads" until you find a good match.
This twist on the traditional jack-o'-lantern cuts down on some of the usual pumpkin cleaning: No need to hollow out the body. Just clean out and carve the head, then add mini pumpkin paws, curvy cucumber tails, and ears from stiffened felt or black card stock from the craft store. Then, light the candle, get the candy, and watch your Halloween cats come to life.

Carve a cat pumpkin
Step 1: Cut out top of small pumpkin and scoop the inside clean. Place it upside down on the base pumpkin, turning to find a good fit. If necessary, carve opening slightly to adjust.
Step 2: Set head on the base to decide placement of eyes, then carve them out. You can draw them on first or use our template.
Step 3: Cut pointy ears out of felt or card stock and mark their positions on the head with a pen. Carve two shallow grooves into the head to hold the ears. Avoid cutting all the way through the pumpkin. (For more realistic ears, carve crescent-shaped grooves.)
Step 4: Prep an outside work area for spray painting. Stuff the head with loosely crumpled newspaper.
Cover pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and cucumber with one or two thin coats of black spray paint. Allow to dry. Remove stuffing and insert the ears.
Step 5: If the head is wobbly, gently pound a few floral picks into the body with the mallet or hammer. Measure the opening of the head, then position the picks to fit just inside.
Touch up paint if needed.
Step 6: Put a short tea light on a lid or dish to catch any drips. Stick to the top of the big pumpkin with a small ball of clay polymer or poster putty. Attach the head. Position cat and arrange tail and paws next to body.


  • Knife or carving kit
  • Pumpkins
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Stiff felt or paper for ears
  • Newspaper
  • Curved cucumber or skinny gourd for tail
  • Mini pumpkins for paws
  • Black floral spray
  • Wood floral picks (5 or 6 per pumpkin; optional)
  • Mallet or hammer for attaching picks to base pumpkin (optional)
  • Tea-light candle in flat dish or jar lid
  • Clay polymer or poster putty

Halloween Globes

Invert a glass globe that normally goes over an electric ceiling light fixture, tuck a tea light inside, and you've got a holiday lantern. Choose a globe that fits over the porch light and you can greet trick-or-treaters in an orange glow.
TIME: 20 minutes, not including drying time
COST: $10 to $15
  1. Translucent orange spray paint for glass (available at some Michaels craft stores; Krylon Stained Glass Magic Color is available at www.artcity.com)
  2. Glass globe for a light fixture (available at hardware stores)
  3. Pencil
  4. Cardboard
  5. Scissors or craft knife
  6. Black contact paper
  7. Wire cutters
  8. 20-gauge wire
  9. Six black beads
  10. Rubber band
  11. Pliers
  12. Hair dryer
  13. Glass beads or sand
  14. Tea light
1. Spray-paint the outside of the globe and set aside to dry (about an hour).
2. Draw a simple design - a jack-o'-lantern, black cat, or bat - on cardboard and cut out. Trace shape on contact paper and cut out design.
3. With wire cutters, cut a 2-foot length of wire and a 1-foot piece.
4. Thread black beads on the longer wire. Gently bend it to form a rounded handle. Position over globe leaving 2 inches of wire below neck of the globe on each side. Secure with the rubber band.
5. Wrap the shorter wire tightly around the neck of the globe and, with pliers, twist firmly. Clip off excess wire. Cut off the rubber band and discard.
6. Bend the descending 2 inches of the handle up over the securing wire and lightly twist around the handle. Cover the twist with the black beads, three on each side.
7. Peel the backing off the contact paper and stick the design on the globe, smoothing out as many bubbles as possible. With a hair dryer on a warm setting, heat the paper and smooth out the rest of the bubbles.
8. Pour a small amount of glass beads or sand in the bottom of the globe. Place a tea light in the center.                                   

Foliage band

Beautiful Leafy Pumpkins

Choose Select a variety of pumpkin shapes, sizes, and colors. For added personality, select ones with unique stems.
Plan Before carving, group pumpkins in desired location and map out each one's design.
Design Trace real leaves onto paper, or use patterns from botanical "clip art" books (available at bookstores and art-supply stores). Experiment with leaf size and arrangement.
Hollow With a saber saw or pumpkin-carving tool, cut out the top of each pumpkin. Scoop out seeds and strings with a sturdy metal spoon. Then use a pottery tool called a loup, a small metal ladle, or a melon baller to scrape out as much of the interior as possible, especially where you plan to carve (this will make carving easier and allow for better illumination).
Transfer Before copying a design onto a pumpkin, clean the entire surface with a damp towel, then wipe with another towel until exterior is completely dry. Secure paper to pumpkin with masking tape or pushpins. Use a pushpin, embroidery needle, or metal skewer to prick your design onto the pumpkin.
Carve Cut along transferred design lines using a saber saw, pumpkin-carving tool, small paring knife, or linoleum-cutting tool (similar to a box cutter). Shorter blades allow more control.
Preserve To keep your designs looking fresh, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or vegetable oil to the pumpkin's carved crevices.
Light To get the right amount of glow in a pumpkin lit by candles, use multiple tea lights.                                

Glowing vines

Glowing Vines

Meandering patterns add a whimsical storybook appeal to your arrangement.

1. Cut out top of pumpkin and scrape the interior clean (see instructions).

2. Using a real vine or a vine pattern, transfer design onto pumpkin. (To create your own pattern, use varying sizes of your favorite leaf shape, then draw a vine between the leaves.)

3. Carve leaf shapes by cutting completely through the pumpkin or by scraping a shallow relief. You can combine the two methods, as shown here on the smallest pumpkin.

4. With a scraping tool, carve vine stem about ¼ inch deep, being careful not to break all the way through the pumpkin flesh.

Harlequin leaves

Harlequin Leaves

Repeat a single leaf shape for a quilted look on hollow pumpkins (see instructions).

Front left With a small paring knife, cut long, thin grooves at a 45° angle into pumpkin, being careful not to break all the way through the flesh. Repeat in vertical rows as shown.

Center Intersperse vertical rows of two leaves with rows of a single leaf, reversing the direction of leaf stem in each row. Along top and bottom of single-leaf rows, cut out triangular notches and depress slightly.

Back right Cut out leaf shape in two parts, leaving center vein in place, or use a scraping tool (see instructions) to peel away rind inside the design, leaving center vein exposed (we used both techniques on our pumpkin).



Create a centerpiece-worthy embossed effect with no candle or seed scooping required.

1: Using a large leaf (or a leaf pattern enlarged to fit your pumpkin), transfer design onto the center of an intact pumpkin.

2: With a pencil, draw a complementary shape to frame the leaf design, preferably leaving at least ½ inch of space on all sides of leaf edges.

3: Use a scraping tool to peel away flesh between leaf shape and its frame. With the same tool, carve leaf veins in a freehand pattern.

4: Arrange multiple silhouetted pumpkins along the center of an outdoor table. Add stones or leaves to complete the setting.    

Party pumpkins

Party Pumpkins

Get a jump-start on holiday decorating with these shimmery miniature pumpkins. Tiny pumpkins ― or any small gourds ― can be colored in minutes with acrylic paints or permanent markers. The secret to their jewel-like sparkle is a finishing glaze applied after the paint or ink has thoroughly dried.
Display the decorative pumpkins in a pretty bowl on a coffee table, use them as a centerpiece on the dining table, or nestle them with seasonal greens in potted plants. You can even use them as place cards, setting them on individual plates with name tags attached to the stems.
1. Use a foam brush to apply acrylic paint evenly over pumpkin.
2. While paint is still wet, run a rubber comb around the pumpkin. Start from the stem and work from top to bottom. As an alternative to painting and combing, use a broad-tip marker to draw spirals or dots on the pumpkins, or go a little wild by drawing random lines in contrasting colors.
3. When paint or ink is dry, spray with a polyurethane glaze as a protective finish.
Miniature pumpkins in varying sizes and shapes
Foam brush
Acrylic paint
Rubber comb (available from craft stores)
Broad-tip permanent markers
Polyurethane glaze