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Blessed Thanksgiving 2015 from Practically at Home

Practically at Home offers sincerest best wishes for a lovely Thanksgiving - however you spend it.

Here are some Thanksgiving-related items of interest:


Does an apple a day actually keep the doctor away?

Apples are amazing. Those shiny red and green delights are virtual medicinal miracles. For generations, folks have trumpeted the virtues of this fruit, saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Is that true? Pretty much.

Here are 15 of the most commonly recognized potential benefits of eating plenty of apples:

  1. better heart health
  2. boosted immunities
  3. decreased risk of diabetes
  4. fewer gallstones
  5. healthier brain
  6. hunger satisfaction
  7. improved cancer protection
  8. increased fiber for intestinal health
  9. less cataract risk
  10. lower risk of stroke
  11. more consistent blood sugar levels
  12. reduced cholesterol levels
  13. slower mental aging
  14. whiter smile
  15. vitamin boost

To clarify, doctors seldom come to us anymore. As sure as God made little green apples, house calls are a distant memory in most parts. But apples may indeed help to keep us from requiring extra visits to emergency rooms, walk-in clinics, or doctors’ offices – at least, for everyday illnesses.

How ‘bout them apples and good health?

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How to carve a Halloween pumpkin in 7 easy steps

Jumpin’ Jack-o-Lanterns!

Halloween pumpkin carving is a beloved family tradition in many homes. Parents and children alike eagerly anticipate the annual trek to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkins for carving into jack-o-lanterns. On Halloween night, as trick or treaters parade through the neighborhood, folks proudly display their crafty home-carved pumpkins.

What are the seven basic steps for carving a Halloween pumpkin?

Pumpkin carving is not complex. In fact, it can be quite simple, although the pumpkin carving designs may be quite elaborate.

1. Wash and dry the pumpkin before carving.

Pumpkins are produce. As part of the squash family, pumpkins are grown on the ground. A Halloween pumpkin may be dusty or muddy, even if it has been purchased at a grocery store. The pumpkin must be washed and dried thoroughly before carving it into a Halloween jack-o-lantern.

2. Cut the top off the pumpkin before carving.

Cover a kitchen counter, table or other sturdy, flat surface with old newspapers. Place the Halloween pumpkin atop the newsprint, and hold it securely with one hand.

Use a large knife to cut out the top portion of the pumpkin. Be sure to make a large enough opening to accommodate one hand easily. Ideally, the edges of this opening will slant outwards, as this will keep the pumpkin cap from falling into the carved pumpkin on display.

3. Clean out the inside of the pumpkin before carving.

Carefully trim all pumpkin pulp and seeds from the pumpkin cap. Set the cap aside.

Use a large spoon or Melon Baller to scoop out all of the seeds and pulp from the inside of the pumpkin. Discard the pulp and seeds. (Seeds may be roasted in an oven with seasoning salts, such as Johnny's Seasoning Salt, No MSG,  and olive oil for a tasty and crispy Halloween pumpkin carving snack.)

4. Pick a pattern for pumpkin carving.

Pumpkin carving stencils and templates are easy to find. Patterns are sold in pumpkin carving tool kits and Halloween craft books. Some pumpkin carving stencils even come with special pumpkin knives, saws, and other tools for creating Halloween masterpieces, while others may include only the patterns. Here are a few examples:

Pumpkin carving templates may also be downloaded free from holiday craft websites. Many Halloween pumpkin carving artists create their own designs. Some folks sketch Halloween pumpkin carving patterns on paper before picking up a knife. Others dig right in with simple triangle eyes and noses and chunky toothy grins for Halloween jack-o-lantern faces.

5. Carve the pumpkin.

Most pumpkins have a natural front and back side. Often, Halloween pumpkin carvers choose the smooth, rounded side for the jack-o-lantern face. However, some may opt to carve the flat, rough side of a pumpkin, if it better suits the chosen pumpkin carving design.

Draw or trace the pumpkin carving design on the pumpkin. Using a sharp, sturdy knife, cut out the various components of the pumpkin carving pattern. Discard the cut-out pumpkin pieces.

6. Add a candle inside the carved pumpkin.

Place a sturdy votive or short pillar candle inside the carved pumpkin. Light the candle carefully, and replace the top of the pumpkin.
A cordless electric candle or light may also be used to illuminate a carved pumpkin for Halloween.

7. Display the carved pumpkin.

Halloween jack-o-lanterns may be displayed indoors or out. Just be sure to keep lit pumpkins away from Halloween corn stalks, paper items and other flammables.

    NOTE:  This blogger has no affiliation with any product/s or companies mentioned in this post and received no remuneration from the manufacturer/s or product promoter/s for this post.

About artificial pumpkins:

Many Halloween crafters choose to purchase foam-filled artificial pumpkins. These inexpensive Halloween decorations need not be cleaned out before carving, and they may be reused annually. Carving artificial pumpkins does take some extra tools and skill, but it can be well worth the expense and effort. (Watch for an upcoming Practically at Home post on carving artificial pumpkins.)

Halloween shops and discount stores offer pre-carved, plug-in Halloween jack-o-lanterns as well, for those who seek the ultimate in Halloween decorating convenience.

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