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Lifestyle: Gourds Galore

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From ghostly white to vibrant orange, pumpkins popping up around town is the surest sign that fall is here. But if your only brush with the fruit (yes, technically it’s a fruit) is plopping one on your front step just before the trick-or-treaters arrive, you are missing out on its diverse uses.

Prepare to get a little muddy this year and pick your own pumpkin, or check out pumpkin-inspired products from around Columbus that go far beyond your favorite latte flavor. We’ve even got some fall decorating tips to help turn your home into a cozy, autumnal oasis.

Dress 'em up

Seasonal decorations are nothing to be afraid of. They don’t have to be limited to cauldrons and ghosts to be festive, said Susan Brook, of Susan Brook Interiors in Columbus. Embrace the beauty of nature to adopt a more sophisticated flair with these easy tips.

  1. Think outside the pumpkin. Include natural props, such as dried ears of corn, corn stalks and gourds.
  2. Tone it down. Not everything is black and orange in nature. Reflect nature’s subtle, variegated colors in your decorations by introducing greens, yellows and browns into your decorating.
  3. Mix it up. In nature, things don’t match, so why should your designs? If you have pumpkins on your front steps, it’s OK if one is white and another is green or orange.
  4. Chill out. If you’re using real gourds and pumpkins, keep them fresh by storing them in the refrigerator when they’re not on display. When kept cool, they’ll keep for weeks.
  5. Go shopping for decor items in your backyard. “Use leaves that have recently fallen before they dry out,” Brook said. “Line a glass bowl and fill it with large acorns or pomegranates and apples for deep, rich color.”

Carve 'em out

Carving your family’s annual jack-o’-lanterns can prove a tricky proposition. Turn it into a delightful treat with these handy tips from

  1. Choose a pumpkin with good color, a sturdy stem and flat bottom, which will help keep your canvas steady while carving your masterpiece.
  2. Cut around the stem at an angle so the “lid” can’t fall back inside the pumpkin. Use straight cuts (at a 90 degree angle) to carve out patterns.
  3. Scoop out all the seeds and pulp, but be sure to leave the sides of the pumpkin at least 1-inch thick.
  4. Draw your pattern on a piece of paper, then cut it out. Be sure to leave a half-inch border around the outside, and then use tape to affix the pattern to the pumpkin.
  5. Once carving is complete, place a lit candle inside it and replace the lid for a few minutes. Remove the lid and carve a small hole where the smoke blackened the lid so the smoke can escape.
  6. To keep the carving fresh all month long, periodically apply petroleum jelly to the carved edges so they don’t dry out.

Pumpkin Products

Pumpkin Pie Spiced White Balsamic Vinegar

Get it

A Thyme for All Seasonings, 2360 N. National Road,379-1131

Use it

Toss this nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon-laced vinegar with diced butternut squash, olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roast for a savory snack or side dish.


Southern Tier Pumking Ale

Get it

Powerhouse Brewing Co., 322 Fourth St., 375-8800

Use it

Toast the fall season with this malty, whose sweet pumpkin and cinnamon scent will hit you even before the creamy, spicy fall flavors do.


Pumpkin Butter Spread

Get it

Zaharako’s Ice Cream Parlor, 329 Washington St.,378-1900

Use it

Slather this earthy spread, made in Bloomington especially for Zaharako’s, on everything from your breakfast biscuits and toast to dinner rolls and quick breads.

Picky, Picky

When selecting the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o’-lantern, why not go straight to the source and harvest your own?

During the month of October, two area farms will let you do just that.

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes you won’t mind getting dirty, cautions Chuck Newkirk of Newkirk Farm. Look for pumpkins with a strong, sturdy stem, he said.

“The beauty of visiting a pumpkin patch is you’re able to literally pick the one that best suits your needs, including size, shape and color,” he said.

Check out these pick-your-own pumpkin patches:

Harper Valley Family Farm

Address: 13094 S. County Road 600W, Westport

Hours: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cost: Pumpkins cost $3 each



Newkirk Farm

Address: 3392 E. 1050N, Seymour

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Cost: Pumpkins cost $3 each

Information: 812-521-0702


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