How to carve a Halloween pumpkin the easy way.

I watch Martha Stewart frost cookies, swirl ribbon, and carve magnificent jack-o-lanterns and I think WHY NOT ME? She's so cool. And I drool. In the past, I've left pumpkin carving to the manly man in my house, the one with the big knife. Daddy. I must be a big ol' wimp because I have always had the hardest time, physically, carving a pumpkin. BUT, yesterday I took a stand and decided not to let the pumpkin beat me. I learned from the carving pro Matthew McIntosh a few simple steps that made pumpkin carving as easy as Martha Stewart makes it look. Really. And these pictures? Yes, I actually carved this pumpkin.

My Martha Stewart Pumpkin Carving Tricks
First, remember that when you cut the top of your pumpkin off to make a lid, cut at an angle so that the lid does not fall into the pumpkin. Stop laughing, this was not a no-brainer to me. Then, seriously, invest in a Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving Kit. This pumpkin tool box makes all the difference. I will never go back to using spoons and sharp knives.

Scrape out the inside of the pumpkin. Since I just carving a design into the skin of my pumpkin, not cutting it all the way thru, I want to scrape the inside of the pumpkin on the side the design will be on, down to about 1/2 inch thick. (That way when I put a light inside, my design will glow where there is no outer skin.) The scraping spatula makes this waaaaay easier than using a spoon.

Find a Halloween stencil or template that you'd like to become the design on your pumpkin, print it out,  and tape it to the outside of the pumpkin. (The Pumpkin Masters Kit comes with pages and pages of stencils by the way)

Take the sharp pointy tool from your kit, (or something like a toothpick or icepick) and poke tiny holes along the design. This will transfer the pattern to cut onto your pumpkin skin. Then take off your stencil.

Rub white flour into the surface of the pumpkin. You will see the flour will fill the tiny holes and illuminate them, making your stencil pattern look like a connect-the-dots pattern. Feelin' like Martha yet? I sure was at this point.

Use the sharp edge of a knife or the X-Acto looking tool to basically connect the dots, cutting a line from dot-to-dot to cut out your picture. Then, use the pointed, chiseled, X-Acto knife in the tool kit to scrape off the dark orange pumpkin skin in the negative areas on the pattern a bit at a time, revealing the light pumpkin flesh underneath. (One of those wood carving curved scooper tools works ok for this too. I remember using that in art school. Then I remember going to the emergency room.)

Now, mix up a little cup of bleach-water and paint it on to all the revealed surfaces of pumpkin flesh. This will kill the bacteria that causes your pumpkin to mold so fast. And finally, rub Vaseline onto all the exposed surfaces as this will lock in the moisture that prevents your pumpkin from drying up and shriveling so fast. Doing both of these steps will net you another 3-5 days of perfect pumpkin after carving. Are those Martha tricks or what?

Finally, put a Sylvania LED DOT-it Light inside the pumpkin to light it. Then, you don't have to worry about catching your pumpkin on fire (did it) or turning it black with candle smoke (also did it). There, don't you feel all superior now? Take that, Martha Stewart.

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