There, did I get your attention? I hope you're thinking about decorating for Halloween as much as I am these days!
It's never too early to begin planning which jack-o'-lantern designs you'll make this year as a spooky display for your front window, porch, yard or driveway.
Every autumn, my daughter and I begin dreaming up fresh pumpkin faces as soon as there's a hint of chill in the air. And we're getting more imaginative with our designs every year (some fun creative competition!).
And now's the best time for you to get a jump on the Halloween season, too, with a few handy pumpkin-carving tools and some popular jack-o'-lantern patterns.
After all, every would-be pumpkin Picasso can use a little help!
A tour of the Web provides a selection of some top-flight pumpkin-carving tools to do the trick (or treat):
From Williams-Sonoma comes a set of tools with everything you need to scoop out and carve your pumpkin, down to the last crooked tooth (shown).
Four tools made of stainless steel include a pumpkin scoop (to clear pulp and seeds), a large carving saw (strong enough to pop out a pumpkin lid), a small carving saw to create artistic details for eyes, mouth, nose and you name it, as well as an etching tool to shave the pumpkin exterior into any patterns you want. The tool set also includes five stencils to help fashion a variety of designs, if you want some extra creative help.
For about $20 a set -- not counting the pumpkin! -- that works up quite a few jazzy jack-o'-lanterns for home decorating.
Or check out another arsenal of pumpkin-cutting tools from Messermeister (shown below), sold on Newegg for about $20 a set. The "culinary" scoop cleans seeds and stringy pulp from pumpkins -- and also thins the walls of thick pumpkins, so you, er, your child, can safely make precise cuts. The pro-touch v-tool helps create the fancy, decorative zigzag edge that's a must around the lid of any proud pumpkin. Cut out larger areas and patterns with the carving knife, which has a long, thin, semi-flexible blade for all types of decorative carving.
One of the most prolific pumpkin pattern makers -- from easy to exotic looks -- is the Pumpkin Masters (shown). The company sells specially designed templates that adhere well to various lumpy, bumpy pumpkin surfaces, so you can add even more custom details to your prize pumpkin.
If you have photos of your own imaginative pumpkin carvings, we'd love to see you submit them to our Flickr group.