Turns out I've been going at it all wrong. Literally going at it from the wrong side! Check out what I've learned this year to help you and that pumpkin have the best spooky szn yet.
1. Picking the best pumpkin: Look for one without any blemishes on it's skin. The healthier the outside looks, the longer it will last.
2. Pumpkin bath: Most people will say to use 1 part bleach to 10 parts water to clean the pumpkin. If you'll be putting it outside where animals might snack on it (it is actual food after all and we're putting it in their home) - try using 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water instead.
3. Start at the bottom: What?!? Why did I not know this before. They say you can keep your Jack-O-Lantern from caving in so fast if you carve the "lid" out of the bottom of the pumpkin and not the top.
4. Clean the guts: Everyone's least favorite part, right? Well just when you think you're all done - do more. That's the expert tip. Clean out more of the inside than you want to for the best finished product. Also, try to thin out the side where you'll be carving the face to just a little over an inch thick.
5. Design on paper first: If you're going for a specific design, it will likely turn out best if you draw it on paper to size. Then tape to the pumpkin and trace the outline by poking little holes where you'll be cutting.
6. Don't sweat the details...at first: Make your cuts rough the first time around and then plan to go clean up the details after till you get the look you're going for.
7: Vent it: Using an actual candle? Let the candle burn for a few minutes inside the pumpkin. Then see where the black spot is on the inside and cut that area out to leave a small vent hole. Or even easier, just use a battery operated light.
8: Finish it: To keep the edges from looking shriveled, you can rub a little petroleum jelly on the cut edges to lock-in the moisture. Some say this keeps the bugs away, but I make no promises. :)
9: Scent it?!?: Yes! Try adding a little cinnamon inside the pumpkin. Then when you light the candle it can smell good! I love this! But probably only useful for an inside Jack-O-Lantern.