Our First Pumpkin Carving Adventure…

Traditionally Halloween is not something we’ve really gotten excited about in our house.  But as our son has now reached the age where such things become the centre of excitement (we blame his playgroup) there was no getting away from it. Every time we went near a supermarket he’d cast glances toward the pumpkins on display and start asking if we could buy one. There was no getting away from it.

So, after initially hoping to get a few groceries we ended up coming away from our local supermarket armed with a couple of pumpkins (despite toddler entreaties to buy more) and zero clue what to do with them.

Of course, the Internet had the answer; there’s an abundance of sites out there with guides like “How to Carve the Perfect Jack O’Lantern” or how to accomplish “A Spooktacular Pumpkin Carving”… all done by experts and looking like it.

Here’s our first tip – if you’ve never carved a pumpkin before DON’T look to Instagram for inspiration; those amazingly crafted works of vegetable sculpture will only make you feel out of your league as you stand there at the table armed with a vegetable knife and bowl for the innards.

So, here’s what you’ll need for a standard pumpkin caving:

1 Pumpkin – the larger the better as carving smaller pumpkins can get tricky
1 Tea light
Table Spoon
Sharp Serrated Knife
Small Serrated Knife

Step One

Choose a pumpkin – the larger the better as carving the smaller ones can prove tricky with less space for the features – and use a sharp serrated knife to cut off the crown.  Try and cut this as straight as you can or, like ours, your finished pumpkin may end up looking like it was given a lobotomy by Stevie Wonder.

Step Two

Grab a table spoon and get scooping – all the seeds and fibres need removing. Use the spoon to remove some of the pumpkin’s flesh too.  TIP: the more flesh you remove the better,  the thinner the pumpkins ‘skull’ is the easier the carving will be so get at that flesh like a frenzied piranha.

To be honest there’s not a whole lot of point doing anything with the seeds and flesh other than lining the bin. Given how most of them end up during October I’ve got a sneaking suspicion they’re not harvested for taste.

You’ll possibly need a hoover / broom at this point too should your helper have been as enthusiastic as ours in throwing away from those pumpkin seeds. Oh, and to wash your hands – the inside of a pumpkin is not the most pleasant of aromas.

Step Three

With your marker pen draw an outline of the face you want on your pumpkin then, with a small serrated knife, cut out the eyes, nose and mouth. Always remember to cut away from you in case the knife slips and to ensure that little ears aren’t paying too much attention when you do….

Step Four

Place the tea light inside the pumpkin, light it and pop the crown back on your Jack O’Lantern’s head and… voila!

For a first go we were pretty proud of ours. They’re not likely to win any beauty contests but we had a whole lot of fun making them and our little one loved the whole process and, cheesy as it may be, that’s what counts, isn’t it?

We hope you have a lot of fun carving your Jack O’Lantern and have a great Halloween. Don’t forget to let us know – in the comments below or on facebook – how your pumpkin carving goes and subscribe to our newsletter for more great fun activities and places to visit on rainy days.

Father’s Day Homemade Origami Card

anime fennec fox

Crafts made by children are invaluable. This year my son and I decided to put our new found passion for origami to work and create a card for Dad ourselves, rather than  buy one in a store. Not that we have anything against the store made one but, a home-made one, with its little imperfections make it all the more valuable.

Here are the tips on making this origami decorated card, along with its envelope – which is also a great fun indoors activity for rainy days.

Cat face or batman mask.

You will need a square of paper (either coloured on white side and white on the other or coloured on both sides) and a felt-tip pen to draw the Batman eyes or the cat face or any other animal, if you wish to do so.

Turn one square around to look like a diamond, with the white side on top. Fold and unfold it in half from bottom to top.

origami_cat_face_diamond_shape

Fold and unfold it in half from side to side.

Fold the bottom corner up to meet the middle.

folding_origami_cat_shape

Fold the top down along the middle fold-line.

fold the shape in the middle

Fold the top side points down to meet the bottom point.

fold the shape down

Fold the points back up into the position as shown in the picture.

fold the points up

Fold the middle point down a little (you can either fold it now, or leave this step for towards the end.

Fold the side points in at an angle.

folding the side points

Fold the bottom point up as far as possible.

This should be your finished result:

folding the bottom

Turn the paper over. Fold the middle point down, tucking it in between the front and back layers of paper.

Carefully glue the front and back layers together, so making the basic animal face. You can now leave your imagination flow freely and draw something. We drew a little anime fennec fox face!

anime fennec fox

Origami card

You can create your own stationary and personalised card. For this you need an A4 paper, either coloured on one side or on the other or on both sides and some glue. The card is extremely simple to make!

Place the rectangle sideways on with the white side on top. Fold it in half from top to bottom.

folding the card in half

Fold it in half from side to side.

folding the card further

Press the paper flat.

Decorate the front of the card by gluing your cat (or fox) face or other pieces of origami. You can make some miniature ones if you prefer.

Envelope

Here is a quick and easy way to make an envelope that matches the card. For this you will need another rectangle of A4 paper, about A4 in size, as above and the origami card.

Place the rectangle length ways on with the white side on top. Fold in half from side to side. Press the paper flat and unfold it.

Fold the top corners down to meed the middle fold line, so making a shape that looks either like the roof of a house or an airplane.

roof shape enveloppe

Lay the origami card centrally on the paper underneath the roof. Fold the sides in and over the card.

folding the enveloppes sides

Fold the bottom up and over the card.

fold the bottom up

Fold the top point down and over the card.

If you want to send the envelope through the post, glue the top point down.

finished enveloppe

You can watch a short video on how to make this card here:

Let us know what other crafts you made for dad this year by commenting on our blog or on our Facebook and Instagram pages.