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Life in Balance: Making a fun jack-o'-lantern haunted house

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 11 2011 5:42 p.m. MDT

Dian Thomas

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Of all the pumpkins I have carved, this has been the most fun to create and to share. A fun tradition or party activity is to have a pumpkin carving night. This is a night where everyone is given a pumpkin to carve and then they go on display for Halloween. The following one would also be fun for a group or family to build:

Large pumpkin with at least one wide, flat side

Sharp knife

Ice cream scoop

Empty cardboard tube from paper towels

1 can to fit inside pumpkin

Broccoli

Leaf lettuce

Square piece of Styrofoam for backdrop

Round toothpicks

Top of a fresh pineapple

Potatoes, carrots, and gumdrops (car)

Round suckers, facial tissues, and ribbon or licorice (ghosts)

Dry ice

Position the pumpkin with the flat side as the front of the house. Cut the top off the pumpkin at an angle so that the lid will fit securely. Clean out the seeds and membranes with an ice cream scoop.

Near the middle and slightly up from the bottom, carefully cut out a rectangle for the door. Cut a square on each side of the door to make two windows. Remove the door and each window in the whole pieces.

Trim the window and door pieces to about 1/2-inch thick by carefully shave the inside. Cut and remove individual windowpanes. Replace the windows in the pumpkin, allowing them to jut out ever so slightly. Position the door on the pumpkin as though it were just being opened.

Place the pumpkin on the table where it will reside. Use broccoli and lettuce leaves for shrubbery. Also pin the leaves of lettuce on the Styrofoam. To make the tree, stick several toothpicks into the bottom of the pineapple top, to stabilize it in the top of the paper towel roll. Wedge the tree securely between the pumpkins.

Make a car from the potato, using carrot slices for wheels and gumdrops for headlights. Make ghosts by tying facial tissue over round suckers with ribbon or black string licorice.

When you want a spookier effect, fill the can that goes inside the pumpkin half full with very hot water. Then with gloves on (adults only) take chunks of dry ice and place into the hot water. Steam will begin to pour out of the door. Caution: Children should never be allowed to handle dry ice.

TV personality and author Dian Thomas shares her journey of weight loss, exercise and life on the run every other Wednesday in the Deseret News and at www.DianThomas.com. Her weekly blog also runs Mondays at deseretnews.com, and she takes tour groups to China. Contact her at www.dianthomas.com/travel.htm Email: features@desnews.com

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