Happy Halloween, everyone! I gotta admit, this isn't my favorite holiday - but our neighborhood makes it a REALLY big deal. We live in a very old neighborhood without street lights, so it's very  dark, and the area is completely flat, which means everyone from the hills comes down to trick or treat. Ten years ago, on our first Halloween here, we were completely gobsmacked when we saw a horse go by, ridden by, you guessed it, a headless horseman. Every year since, it's gotten bigger and crazier. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of kids.

I tend to focus on 'autumn' and 'harvest' rather than Halloween. However, there are a few things that must be done, or it just isn't Halloween. Pumpkin seeds? Yes, please. Carving? Wouldn't think of skipping it. A stray Kit Kat stolen from my children's baskets? Affirmative.

I harvested eight pumpkins from our crop this year, and they kept wonderfully in the corner of our bedroom. I put them out on the front porch around the middle of October. The squirrels ate one completely, and took nibbles out of two others. Luckily, I had several left that had a nice shape and were destined for carving. I hacked in and pulled out the guts (all the while thinking of Linus saying: "YOU KILLED IT!") and picked out the seeds. I've never had homegrown pepitas before.

Roasted with a little olive oil and sea salt, they are really delicious. 

I have a set of carving tools that I use every year. I originally got them, and used them, for lino carving, but they work great on pumpkins, and they allow a lot of detail. You can get these at any craft store. The pumpkin cleaning tools I got years ago in some random stencil kit.

I freehand a design on the pumpkin, and then carve out any 'negative' space.

Kate decided she wanted to do a simple butterfly. She only cut herself once.

I did three of my own, and all four look nice grouped outside together, with a bit of a nature theme. (What else?)

You've seen the leaf, but here's a close-up of the sunflower:

And the skep bee hive:

And here's how they look lighted:

I felt pretty good about my tiny pumpkins, until I walked over to my neighbors house - 100 pumpkins, all home grown, most huge, all carved the normal way of course, but looking spectacular grouped together. Wow. I need to up my game.