Tag Archives: Do it yourself

How To: Preserve a Carved Pumpkin

27 Oct


I did it. For the first time ever I carved a pumpkin I’m not embarrassed to show anyone. Huzzah! I still kind of think that using a stencil is cheating, but after years of duds I was willing to try anything. Once I successfully got the thing taped to the pumpkin, it was a breeze. It’s sad to think it won’t last forever so I did a little research on how to keep it looking fresh for as long as possible. Here are some of the tips that have helped so far:

Before carving

– Wash your pumpkin with warm soapy water to clean it and reduce the spread of mold. *FYI: Pumpkins are often fertilized with manure so you don’t want to skip this step. Just learned that this year. Fun!

IMG_9556After carving

– Immediately soak your pumpkin (yes, the entire thing) in a sink, bucket, or tub filled with a simple DIY Pumpkin Preservative mixture of 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of cold water. I also added two trays of ice cubes to mine and forced them into the interior cavity of my carved pumpkin to help keep it chilled while it re-hydrated. Soak for 8 hour or overnight. (I promise it will not turn your pumpkin to mush.) This re-hydrates and discourages mold.


– Let air dry, then spray the inside and outside with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach in cold water before smearing petroleum jelly on all the cut surfaces. Re-apply as necessary to protect cut surfaces from air and spray your pumpkin with preservative spray daily to discourage the growth of mold. I just mixed mine in a travel spray bottle labeled with a cut Post-it covered with clear tape. Quick + easy. Make sure you remember not to re-use the spray bottle for anything else though since bleach is a chemical. Once we pack up our Halloween decorations, I’ll probably just store it (rinsed and dried) so I can re-use next year.

– If you can, store your pumpkin in the fridge when not in use. Protect from heat, direct sunlight and rain.

General Tips

– Don’t carve the top. Leaving the stem intact helps the pumpkin retain moisture. I also found that I gained more surface carving space at the top and had an easier time accessing the flameless candle by carving the hole in the bottom.

– Use a flameless candle.  I love the look of a flickering candle too, but it dries the pumpkin out so we switched to some flameless ones I found on Amazon. Inglow is my favorite brand because the candles have a wax exterior so they feel like real candles. I also found that their glow and flicker is a bit more realistic than other brands.

Hope some of these tips help! Don’t take my word for it, try them out; I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. So far, my pumpkin is mold free. And if you have any tips that you have found particularly effective, I’m love to hear them.

Chic + Cheap Halloween Decor

25 Oct

IMG_9434Halloween has never been my favorite holiday as far as decor is concerned. I love the candy and the costumes, but my giant-wuss-self can’t take the straight scary stuff. Someday we’ll string up the skull lights with the demonic red eyes that Brian bought a few years ago… but I’m just not there yet.

So I decided to get creative and re-purpose some things we already had and am really happy with how effortlessly it all came together. We lucked out being able to re-use a lot of our black + white-striped wedding decor. Together with a few easy DIY art projects, some mini pumpkins and gourds we picked on our annual pumpkin-picking trip, with a few new items sprinkled in, were able to style our place without breaking the bank.

Here is a peek at what we did:
Printable Happy Halloween banner

The b+w striped and solid paper lanterns I bought here for our wedding and the banner was a freebie printable. I loved the design so much I opted to print on some leftover heavy-weight card stock so we can re-use it year-to-year.  I strung it together using some leftover wedding ribbon. Total cost: Free!

IMG_9360Added some spiders I found on clearance last year to this flower wreath my mom made us for the wedding. I debated adding a bow but loved the spooky simplicty so I left it as is.

IMG_9365Found a couple of quality black glitter skulls at CVS for about $4/each earlier this month. Yes please! Nestled in with some very old books I’ve picked up over the years, it’s creepy without being over the top.

IMG_9381A little spider web over a stretched canvas photo a friend gifted us for our wedding.IMG_9417Used a Wilton Armetale serving tray (a wedding gift) to corral some coffee table items, like coasters (from my bridal shower), candy corn and this scorpion votive candle holder (set of 4) that I found at TJ Maxx last year after Halloween for $5!

IMG_9425I have a bit of a gourd obsession. The variety of textures, shapes, and colors is incredible and their small scale makes them perfect for popping into random spots for a pop of festive color anywhere you need it. Eventually I’d like to swap in some faux ones for the real thing so I don’t have to buy them year after year, but for $1/each, they’re hardly investment pieces. We bought them late enough in the season that with proper care, they should last through Thanksgiving too. Bonus!

IMG_9423It’s not Halloween without candy, right? I love how pretty candy corn or wrapped caramels look in some vintage Ball Ideal jars. Plus, the wire closures are just tricky enough to open that I’m usually not tempted to sneak any — they’re for guests!

IMG_9428I’d been reading up on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) when I saw this awesome graphic Sugar Skull on the cover of a Paper Source catalog. I just ripped off the cover, trimmed it to fit an 8.5 x 11″ frame and popped it in before adding it to our wine bar. Cost: Free!

IMG_9431Above the bar I strung up one of the b+w fabric banners my mom sewed for our wedding. I debated adding another printable sign, but I thought it’d be overkill so I kept it simple.

IMG_9438We took this centerpiece home from a wedding we attended on October 4th! Thanks to long-lasting greens, faux leaves, and careful watering of the floral foam base, I only had to replace just 2 of the red roses with fresh ones to keep it looking fresh, before popping it into a nicely tarnished silver champagne bucket. (I was temped to polish it up but actually really liked the look just for Halloween.)

IMG_9443Another freebie online printable banner I strung up on a silver tray we keep on a picture ledge in the kitchen.
IMG_9447This “Autumn Essentials” print is one of my favorites; I love watercolor illustration! It’s a freebie download from Jones Design Company. (Also pictured is my “2013 De-clutter calendar” which I’m obsessed with.)

IMG_9461Found this little skull picture holder at Kohl’s for less than $5. Eventually when I print some Halloween photos, I’ll display them here. (BTW: The irony of this placement isn’t lost on me since Brian is convinced that Truvia is bad!)IMG_9475Space is at a premium in our teeny tiny bathroom, but a couple more macabre votive holders and a mini pumpkin are festive and simple and about as heavy as I want to go in terms of testing the weight capacity of these shelves!IMG_9479A grapevine wreath with some pretty vintage ribbon and rosettes (made by my mom) is just inside our high-traffic doorway so we’ll see it often. IMG_9485Free printable Halloween subway art in a simple clip frame. I wanted to keep it sleep and simple so I skipped a traditional picture frame. Eventually I may try transferring the print to a large-scale canvas more impact. The table runner pictured here is another wedding item my mom made for us that we use all the time.

So that’s a rundown of how I re-purposed a lot of our wedding decor for Halloween. I’m really happy with how it all turned out particularly because I’m trying to be more mindful of waste. Decorations are a fun addition to our home, but I want them to be multifunctional when possible (like the white wreath) or small and easy to store if they’re not, like the votive candle holder set. By keeping this in mind, I was able to eliminate waste and also save a few bucks. But most important of all, I love how fun and festive our place looks for Halloween this year.