At this time of year, when the temperatures are cooling, the children are gearing up for Halloween and the ubiquitous Jack-o'-Lanterns.
First consider where your pumpkins will be placed. If they are to grace the stairs leading up to your front door, select smaller pumpkins for carving.
For a focal point on your porch, or a centerpiece for your table, go for a larger one.
Just be sure that you choose pumpkins that are uniformly colored with no bruises or discoloration, and are either tall and narrow, or more rounded, depending on the design of your carving.
Next, your tools.
A long thin-bladed knife is best for cutting the top hole and large pieces out of the face of the gourd, with a paring knife used for detail work.
All of your tools should be sharpened before and after carving, so make this a family affair with parents in control of all carving tools! The little ones can draw the desired face on the pumpkin with a simple crayon.
Begin by cutting a 5- or 6-sided hole in the top of the pumpkin, about two-thirds the diameter of the pumpkin.
Angle the knife so that the lid and hole will be somewhat cone shaped; this will help prevent the lid from falling into the hole.
Scrape the seeds and stringy membrane out with a large spoon, keeping certain to scrape the bottom flat so that the candle sits squarely.
Then carefully carve with your paring knife the face you've drawn on the best side of the pumpkin.
Finish up with a white votive candle in a clear glass holder.
Or be safety-first with a battery-powered LED flickering tea candle.
You may need a couple of these to light your Jack-o'-Lantern sufficiently.
Fire safety should be paramount.
Never leave a lit candle unattended, and never leave children alone with a lit pumpkin or any candles.
Follow these rules and your pumpkins will be your scary pals throughout the holiday!
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