October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkin carving is one of the greatest Halloween traditions. I collected some terrific tips to share this season:

The Pick of the Patch! The best pumpkin for carving is one that is:
-Large in size
-Has a flat surface (shouldn't roll easily)
-Has a sturdy stem (don't handle your pumpkin by the stem, it will weaken it)
-Has a healthy looking bottom. (A punctured pumpkin on the bottom can have funny things growing inside once you open it up.)

These carving tips may seem basic but they are important!
-Work with a clean and dried surface. Carve on the flattest side of the pumpkin.
-When you cut the lid for your pumpkin make sure to angle the knife so the lid doesn't fall in.
-Use a non permanent marker to draw your design. The marker will wash off easily.
-Clean out the inside and scrape the sides down- you are aiming for a one inch thick frame for cutting.
-Use a saw blade knife. When carving you should be sawing not cutting. Work slowly and carefully because if you make a mistake you can't fix it!

Jack-o-lanterns can last one day to several weeks before shriveling. The key is to prevent the pumpkin from drying out. Here are some tricks:
-Soak your pumpkin in a water bath daily. You can even add some unscented bleach to kill off bacteria and mold.
-If a daily pumpkin bath is too much work, simply spray the pumpkin with water daily but dry off the outside with a towel to prevent mold from growing.
-Coat the inside and exposed sawed edges of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly. It will help seal in moisture.

There are some creative things you can do with your carved pumpkin. Here are some ideas:
-Use either candles or a battery powered small light bulb for lighting the pumpkin. Flash bumbs can be used to add a startling effect!
-Pin colored cellophane sheets behind the carved design. The light will shrine through the design.
-Add a music device to the inside of the pumpkin to welcome trick-or-treaters.

I hope these tips help you create a beautiful jack-o-lantern this season. Happy Halloween!


October 12, 2009

A Space Of Your Own

Over the weekend my roommate was away and I decided to finish a few small projects around the apartment. I have been wanting to create a small space to do my hobbies. For years I have been living with my dear friend Kate in a two bedroom apartment in Murray Hill. Our furniture is small, our decorations are small and the space is, well small. Usually, I make my crafts on the coffee table, even my bedroom floor, any place where I can spread out. I decided that even in my teeny tiny bedroom, it is imperative that I have a space designated for my hobby.

I took a old vanity table and removed the attached mirror. I hung a wall storage unit above the table for my crafts, complete with a lamp and a little chair for sitting and doing my work. (I can still use it as a vanity when I need to. How wonderful to make a space that serves a double purpose!) The wall storage unit actually looks like a piece of art with all of the colorful craft supplies rather than a storage piece. It will also keep me organized since it is on display all of the time now!

Here are some other space making ideas for common hobbies:
-cozy chair with bright lamp for the knitter, needlepointer or reader.
-small kitchen cart for the baker to keep her baking supplies and workspace separate.
-small craft table for the card maker or scrapbooker.
-easel for the drawer or painter, keep unfolded and ready to go.

Living a happy, stressfree life involves making time for your hobbies. Creating a "space" for your hobby will remind you to do your hobby more often. No matter how little square footage you have, you can always find space for the things you love. Keep your space set up as a reminder to take time out of your day for yourself to do what you love. If your space is ready to go, you are more likely to take time for your craft. You always have time to do what is important to you, it's all about prioritizing!


October 1, 2009

SUCH Ideas For Halloween

Do you ever come up with a great idea and think to yourself How did that just pop into my head? I imagine that other creative folks think the same thing all the time too. The act of coming up with a creative idea is very exciting. I had lunch with my old co-worker Terrence this week and I asked him what his two little baby girls were going to be for Halloween. He wasn't sure so we began to think of ideas...

I've always loved the idea of making my own costume. I don't mean sewing necessarily, just thinking up a unique idea and figuring out a way to make it happen. Sort of like having thoughts in your head and finding the right words to articulate them. So the idea I posed to Terrence was that his family should dress up as s'mores. Haha, yes the ones you eat at campfires! Don't ask me why this idea randomly popped into my head but it did and we began to roll with it. Mom and Dad can dress as graham crackers using brown cardboard sheets over their clothes. One year old Lucia can go as chocolate by wearing a brown sweatsuit and paper cone hat covered in tin foil with a hershey's kiss tag coming out of the top. Baby Ava can go as the marshmellow, all wrapped up in white blankets. How cute!

This morning I was sitting in the cab texting Terrence that he should definitely do the group s'mores costume and that I would be happy to make Lucia's hat. Suddenly, another idea popped into my head. Oh, the excitement is back- I love it! Anyway, my idea was another family costume where everyone dresses up as a type of donut. Dad can be a french crowler, Mom can be a vanilla glazed donut, and baby Lucia and baby Ava can go as munchkins. How cute again!

Well, the purpose of the post is not to give you costume ideas this year, but it is to encourage you to think outside the box this Halloween. Once you have a fun and creative idea, go ahead and make the costume yourself. It doesn't really matter how the costume turns out, it's the idea and creativity behind it that will get all of the attention you are seeking. When you come up with your creative idea you may even get that really excited feeling too!
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