Sunday, September 30, 2012

History of Jack-O-Lanterns

Carving pumpkins is a big deal in my house.  Every year, I start looking
for or designing the perfect carving template in July.  I invite friends over and feed them dinner for the occasion.  I have even started collecting real tools to build a Carving Tool Box in place of buying a carving set every year.  I take my pumpkin carving very seriously.

As I have gotten older, my pumpkin carving has veered away from the traditional jack-o-lantern.  I tend to carve pop culture or Halloween-themed pumpkins - ridiculously intricate designs that take me most of the night to complete.  (My friends are very patient angels.)

But I couldn't help but start to wonder why.  Why do we take a simple gourd and feel the urge to carve up its surface?  Why do we stick our hands into its gooey center and pull out its guts?  Disregarding the obvious reason... {to roast the pumpkin seeds - yum!}  Why?  Where did this tradition come from?

Thank you, History Channel, for providing the answer. And thank you, crazy Irish people, for your awesome myth that has provided hours of entertainment over the years.

The Legend of "Stingy Jack"

People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o'-lanterns.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Featured: Arizona Republic

It's an exciting day for The Creative Cubby!

was featured in the Arizona Republic's 
'I Did It!' Section!

Pumpkin Carving Week

By far, my favorite part of Halloween is pumpkin carving.

It's traditional, gross
and challenging.

Join me as I share my tips and tricks for
successful pumpkin carving.

September 30 - October 6, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pinspiration Friday: Golf Fun!


In honor of the Ryder Cup at the beautiful Medinah Country Club, 
I'm sharing some of my favorite golf themed pins.

{I'm thinking husband's 30th Bday} 

{only $15}

{I can't help myself - too cute!}

And to finish it off...
The Husband and Me at Medinah last July.
Happy Pinning!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spooky Wood Blocks Decor

I had some wood blocks lying around leftover from a previous project.
Just enough blocks to spell out "Spooky". 

For the full tutorial please see the

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall is in the Air

I've heard quite a few friends gripe about fall in Arizona.  They say it's not how it should be, the experience isn't the same, and it's not "cool" enough to truly be fall.  Sure... I'll concede, it doesn't look {anything} like this.......
OR either one of these.....
The palo verde and mesquite trees don't change colors.  There isn't the rustling of leaves in the evening.  People can't carve their pumpkins and keep them on their porch for weeks ahead of Halloween because, in case you didn't know, the gourds will mold very quickly in 80-90* weather. 

However, fall in Arizona has always held its charms for me.  The leaves may not change, but you know what does change outside?  People.  More people are out walking their dogs or exercising outside.  We can hear kids playing in our neighborhood.  The sudden drop in temperature draws everyone out of their air-conditioned homes and into the big, beautiful world.

I love the first step out in the morning.  The cool air is delightful to breath in - although, my cool air is frequently mixed with the scent of cows, but again... that's charm.

Living in Gilbert, the markets start to fill with local gourds, which I love.  It feel so personal, connected... and small town.

Plus... there's football - enough said.

By far the best part of fall in Arizona though is the weather.  The weather is still warm enough not to need a coat but cool enough in the evenings to turn off the air conditioner, open the windows and listen to the crickets chirp.

So while we may not experience fall like the rest of the country, I wouldn't have it any other way.  This is my fall and I'm ready to enjoy it.  

What's your favorite part of fall?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday with Martha: Halloween Templates

I'm dreaming...
of a spoooooky Halloween!

For today's Monday with Martha,
I'm sharing with you my favorite 
Martha Stewart Halloween Templates.

For more Martha Stewart decor inspiration,
visit their Halloween Decorations page.

To see what else inspires me for Halloween,
follow my Halloween Board on Pinterest

Sunday, September 23, 2012

10,000 Pageviews Giveaway

10,000 Pageviews in under 4 months!!!

I'm completely in awe. 

To thank everyone for their wonderful support
{both old friends and new friends}
I'm giving away a $10 Michaels Gift Card.

Now, I can hear the scoffs already.
"Jen, $10?  Really? What can I do for $10?"

All of the projects below can be completed
for less than $10 a piece.

The contest runs through
Wednesday, September 26, 2012.

Winner will be announced on the blog
and I will mail the gift card to you on Friday.

So what are you waiting for?!
Enter today!  You could be a winner!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Spooky House {using Birdhouse}

I love the unfinished wood birdhouses available at craft stores.  However, being in Arizona, I don't really have trees to hang them in nor do we have birds that will fit in them.  So I just walk through the aisle saying, "Oh, that's so cute!" and am forced to move on.

Well, this Halloween, that's not the case!

I turned this unfinished birdhouse into a Spooky House, complete with monsters, ghosts and candy!  Another great project for kids and adults to get creative and decorate their own Halloween house!

Unfinished Birdhouse
Black Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush
Paint Palette
Sand Paper
Scrapbook Paper
Paper Cutter
Mod Podge (Used: Matte Finish)
Sponge Brush
Paper Towels
Mod Podge Flattening Tool (optional)
Tacky Glue

1.  Sand the rough edges of your birdhouse.  I like sanding over the flat surfaces as well.  I find the paint finishes more evenly.

2.  Paint your entire house using black acrylic paint.  Let dry completely.  Don't forget the under sides of the roof!

3.  Using a ruler, measure the tops of your roofs.  Be careful, mine all looked the same size, but they weren't!  Cut your paper to size.  I did one piece that would fold over the top of one roof.  For the other two roofs, I cut pieces that fit on each side of the roof.  I also cut a small piece to go on the base inside the wood fence.

4.  Mod Podge your sheets onto your roofs.  If you've never used Mod Podge before, follow the pictures below.  Remember to work quickly!

5.  Once all your roof covers are on, Mod Podge the entire birdhouse.  I did this to cover any mistakes I made while Mod Podging and give the entire structure the same sheen.

**My Mistake {OOPS!}**
Don't let your Mod Podge clump up or dry in a big bubble.
You'll end up with nasty discolored spots on your project.
{Look closely at my finished project... you'll see them.}
Use a paper towel to wipe away any large clumps.

6.  When it was mostly dry (you can see the white spots of almost dry Mod Podge), start decorating.  I started with gluing ribbon to the edge of the roof lines.

 7.  Attach your other embellishments to create your creepy house.  I used scrapbook embellishments by K & Company {Michaels}.

Let the entire project dry and enjoy your masterpiece!

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