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October is my favorite month of the entire year. No matter where you live the weather should be starting to get a nice cool crisp feeling to it. Yes, even here in sunny Arizona. Other places you get to see the beautiful leaves start to change, and this is when you know Halloween is creeping right around the corner. BOO!!Halloween Jack o lantern pumpkins lit up at night

Carving Pumpkins is one of the most recognized traditions to celebrate Halloween. I still to this day, carve pumpkins every year. I love everything about it; from picking my pumpkin all the way to baking those delicious pumpkin seeds. I would like to share some of my favorite ideas, and maybe even some tricks and tips to picking and carving the perfect pumpkin.

Choosing the Right Pumpkin

First and foremost, you have to find the perfect pumpkin for YOU. Shopping for pumpkins is made very easy right at the beginning of October. They start showing up in grocery stores and sometimes street corners, but I like to go to the pumpkin patch and pick my own. Mortimer Farm is one of my favorite places to go, because I love going up to the cooler weather and it has a very small town feel to it.

I personally like to find a nice medium size pumpkin with little to no bruising. Now, pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I am very old school so I like picking out a nice solid orange colored pumpkin. First I start to inspect the pumpkin for what I might consider the perfect side to carve. I personally look for the flatter side or sometimes the larger side. Once I have my pumpkin picked out the real fun can begin.

Tools

So now you have your pumpkin at home and ready to carve. First you want to make sure you have the tools to cut and clean out the pumpkin. There are many stores all around the valley from grocery stores to even the dollar store, where they sell a pumpkin carving kits. It comes with the big scooper, a few different styles of carving tools and sometimes even outlined pictures you can use to help guide you through the carving process. I skip all that and I grab a nice big metal spoon and a good size carving knife and I cut the top off.
Now you have to clean the inside of your pumpkin. I start by scooping as much as I can out with my hands. Mostly you’ll be taking the seeds out. I place those in a strainer for cleaning. Then I take my scooper tool and start scraping the edges clean. I want the inside of my pumpkin to have a nice clean smooth look to it. Make sure you clean everything out. This will also be for safety reasons.

Carving

Now you have a pumpkin that is ready to be carved into a Jack-o-lantern. If you decide to use the outlines make sure to tape them in the spot you want, that way it doesn’t move. For me, I just wing it, I start carving whatever comes to mind. The funkier it looks the more fun it will be to see it lit up.

Display It!

Now you have your Jack-o-lantern ready to be set up for display. There are three choices to light it up. First would be the old fashion way: light a tea light candle and place it in the center of the pumpkin. Another would be finding a battery operated tea light and using that. But what I think is pretty cool, is using a glow stick. You can get so many different colors of glow sticks and have it match the theme of your Jack-o-lantern.

Now that your Jack-o-lantern is lit up for everyone to enjoy, it’s time to get started with those pumpkin seeds. Make sure you carefully clean the seeds and pat dry them when you’re done. Spread them over your baking sheet and go to town with whatever seasonings you enjoy the most. Here is one of my favorite recipes.

And that’s that!
Happy Halloween everyone!

-Cassondra Eriksen
Storage West Arizona Associate Manager

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