Hudson - Litchfield News October 22, 2010 - 13
Making a Jack-o-Lantern Last Longer
Jack-o-lanterns are a staple of Halloween decora- tions. Making one last throughout the season is a trick of the trade even some veteran carvers struggle with. People young and old head to pumpkin patches
to pick out the ideal pumpkins. Some prefer per- fectly round ones, while others like tall, oblong ones. Whatever the decision, the majority of these pumpkins will be brought home and turned into jack-o-lanterns, or pumpkins carved with a design. The key to having a jack-o-lantern ready and prime for Halloween haunting is carving it at the right time. Carved pumpkins will not last forever, so timing it right is key. In general, carved pumpkins will last for about a week if kept in a cool place and
Nine Ways to Make Halloween Safer
Halloween is a time for people young and old to enjoy a little mischief and mayhem. To make the holiday even more enjoyable, revelers can heed a few tips to make Halloween as safe as it is fun. 1. Use face paints instead of masks that obscure vision. 2. Wear reflective tape on darker cos- tumes or when trick-or- treating at night. 3. LED lights or glow
sticks are a safer alter- native to lit candles. Some lights even flicker to offer the appeal of candles. 4. Trick-or-treat in a group and never alone. 5. Take a planned route and don’t wander off the path.
Halloween is more enjoyable when safety is part of the holiday.
appropriate and free of hazards, such as strings that can strangle or small parts that can choke. 8. Stick to trick-or-treating in trusted neighbor-
6. Be sure costumes are not tripping hazards. 7. Costumes on young children should be age-
9. Be extra-cautious of cars when walking at
Easy, affordable Halloween projects that kids – and adults – will love
Before the fall wind blows trick-or-treaters to
your front door, make the most of the season with a few simple projects that your kids will love and you will too. They’re easy, fun and very affordable. All it takes is a little imagination and a few things you already have around the house to transform your home into Halloween central. “Halloween can be so much fun, especially if
you involve the kids,” says Paintideas.com
blog- ger Angie Stinner. “Painting pumpkins or creat- ing simple crafts to decorate your home doesn’t take much time and can be done on a shoestring budget. It’s a great way to share some quality time before the busy holiday season.” Here are a few easy, affordable projects from
Angie’s Halloween bag of treats: * Go batty – Create adorable beverage can bats to hang on your porch or anywhere in your home. Just rinse a few empty beverage cans with soap and water and allow to fully dry. Remove the ring that’s attached to each can and bend the can slightly at the middle. Then, in a well-ventilated area like a garage with an open door, lay out old newspaper or an old sheet and spray several light coats of Rust-Oleum Universal Gloss Black spray paint onto each can and allow them to dry for 24 hours.
Once the can has dried, glue bat wings to the sides of the can, teeth to the drinking area on the can, eyes to the top of the can just above the drinking hole and bat ears to the outer ring of the can (right above the eyes). The wings, teeth, eyes and ears can be found at your local craft store or you can make them yourself from foam or construction paper. Glue a piece of fishing line to the can, allow the glue to dry and then unwind a paper clip and tie the other end of the fishing line to the paper clip to hang. Leave this “welcome bat” plain, or use orange puffy paint to write a fun Halloween message. * “Trick” their treats – Don’t send your little ghost or goblin out with an ordinary treat contain- er when it’s so easy to personalize it to reflect their Halloween style. Recycle the old plastic pumpkin they used the year before and transform it into something unique and special with spray paint. Try Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X. It is available in a rainbow of colors to coordinate with any costume. Try a color like Grape or Berry Pink for your little princess or ballerina. Do you
have a Shrek in the family? Try a color like Key Lime or Green Apple for their carrier. Once the plastic pumpkins are painted, let the kids deco- rate them using markers, puffy paint, stickers or stick-on jewels and they’re ready for a night full of candy goodness.
* Instant messaging – Leave the carving knife in the kitchen drawer and try a new twist on pumpkin decorating. Buy a pumpkin or two at the supermarket or farm stand, clean it well to remove dirt and debris and paint it with Rust- Oleum Chalkboard Paint. Spray paint it traditional black—or brush on one of 14 colors in the chalkboard palette with a foam brush. Remember to “scuff” up the pumpkin with the rounded edge of the chalk - then write messag- es to your kids throughout the season. The paint preserves the pumpkin, so you can have some Hal- loween fun right through Thanksgiv- ing.
Looking for more inspiration or Halloween ideas? Visit www.pa
or www. facebook. com/RustO- leum.
out of direct sunlight. A pumpkin left in midday sun and heat will likely rot or mold much more quickly. For those planning on carving pumpkins for Hal-
loween, it’s best to do so a day or two before the big day. This way the design will be crisp and fresh. There also are ways to increase the jack-o-lantern’s longevity.
Some of the best methods involve inhibiting mold
growth and dehydration of the pumpkin. One trick is to submerge the cut pumpkin in a bucket of water for a few minutes after carving to moisten the flesh. Others say that spreading petroleum jelly on the inside of the carved pumpkin will help. Commer- cial chemical products that reduce the decay of the pumpkin may be effective as well. One can also
try using a bleach-and-water solution to keep mold from growing. Those who will simply allow nature to take its course should keep the pumpkin as cool as possible and remove as much of the flesh from the inside when carving. However, because no method is fool- proof, the jack-o-lantern will most likely not make it more than a week, unless the goal is to discover new strains of mold growth. For those who want a permanently ghoulish jack- o-lantern, it’s best to purchase a plastic or ceramic variety instead.
Little-Known Halloween Trivia
Halloween has been celebrated for centuries. Still, most people simply think it’s about dressing up and scouring the neighborhood for candy. A true Halloween lover knows the tasty tidbits of in- formation about the holiday’s history and customs. The holiday of Halloween has been celebrated for 2,000 years and dates back to the ancient Celts who inhabited Britain. They practiced a Druidic fire festival called “Samhain.” It marked the end of the autumn harvest season and the signaling of winter to come, or the end of the “lighter half of the year” and the beginning of the “darker half.” The Celts believed that the border between the current world and the “Otherworld” thinned out on Samhain, allowing spirits to pass through. There are other associations between Hallow- een and the celebrations of the dead. Originally there were pagan festivals to celebrate the dead. However, in the 7th century, when Christianity was blooming, Pope Boniface wanted to replace pagan festivals with Christian celebrations. He introduced All Saints Day to replace pagan death festivals. It was originally observed on May 13, but was later moved to November 1. All Saints Day was known by other names, including All Hallows or All Souls Day. Hallow is an Old English word meaning “sanctify.” Eventu- ally, the day before the religious holiday came to be known as All Hallows Eve, or the Hallow E’en as it was known in Ireland. The term was later shortened to Halloween, as it is known today. Today, Halloween is a largely secular holiday and no longer has such tight religious ties. It is widely known as a day of fun and mischief when individuals dress up to scare away otherworldly spirits and beg for treats and tricks. The colors of orange and black likely became the mascots for Halloween because orange is as- sociated with the harvest and black is associated with death. Other harvest-related decorations are also used, including hay bales and corn husks. However, the larger part of the decorating leans toward the occult, including ghosts, witches, gob- lins and the like. Much of this decor is inspired by the ghost stories of books and Hollywood, such as “Dracula” and “Frankenstein.”
The jack-o-lantern is also an integral part of
Halloween tradition. Legend has it that there was an Irishman named Jack who was a stingy prankster. Jack even tricked the Devil out of Jack’s soul, making the Devil promise to never possess it. When Jack eventually died, he was refused entry to Heaven for being too mean and ill-man- nered. Jack went down to Hell and the Devil kept his promise, refusing to allow him entry there, either. Jack asked the Devil how he could find his way around in the dark place between Heaven and Hell. The Devil tossed an ember to Jack, who placed it in a hollowed-out turnip. He then roamed eternity with his jack-o-lantern. Halloween can be a fun day for children and
adults, even more so when the tradition behind the day is known.
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