One of Britain’s best!

I heart Paul Bettany…

Ever since I first saw him as the crazily articulate Geoffry Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale I was always charmed by his beguiling smile and formidable acting chops. I thought that his roles were heartfelt and had depth and realism and I looked forward to watching every movie he was in. Which is why, I automatically wanted to watch Legion when I first saw the trailer.

The story is about the end of the world. The apocalypse has come and God has lost faith in mankind. He sends his angels to eradicate the human race. Archangel Michael (Bettany), however, still believes in mankind and cuts of his wings to help them fight for another chance.

While the movie itself was probably not one my favorite movies of all time (and I still like God’s Army better of the two angel movies) I thought Paul Bettany was exceptional! His straight-faced, dramatic portrayal of the conflicted angel Michael was believable and real and gave the movie the anchor it needed as the plot was kind of all over the place. Complemented nicely by Dennis Quaid and a rather good cast I thought the movie could be so much better if they had added a bit more cohesion and direction to the plot. Overall though, I still recommend people to see it to appreciate Bettany’s work. He continues to amaze me with every performance.

Bettany as Archangel Michael fights for humanity

Some of my favorite Paul Bettany characters include:

As the smooth-tongued Geoffry Chaucer from A Knights Tale... I loved this movie so much. (RIP Heath Ledger)

As washed-up tennis pro Peter Colt in Wimbledon

As Charles Herman in A Beautiful Mind. The movie where he met his beautiful wife Jennifer Connelly

Among many others. I have yet to see his portrayal of Charles Darwin but I am looking forward to it as well. Simply put, I think he is brilliant and he ranks up there with my other favorites like Johnny Depp and Heath Ledger!

Giving thanks

After everything that has happened these past couple of months, it seems that now – more than ever – is an important time to be thankful for all the numerous blessings in my life. I know I have struggles – who doesn’t after all? But in the end I am so fortunate to have a good family that is always there for me, real friends who I know I can count on through anything, a very healthy idea of who I am and what I value, a solid relationship with God and the faith that my life has a purpose, and, of course, a loving husband who is also my best friend.

I know I can complain quite a bit. Usually because I am harassed or work is hard, but hey, no one ever said it was going to be easy. Besides most of the time it’s my procrastination that makes work difficult. I really need to learn how to better manage my time. I notice that when I wake up early I tend to get far more things done. So that’s something I should look into next year.

For now, I am focused on ending the year on a positive note and looking back at all the good times. I think this can about because we celebrated Thanksgiving the last Thursday of Novemeber. I wanted to write about it sooner, but work just got so out of hand so now is the only free time I had. Nino and I both grew up in the States so Thanksgiving is an important holiday to us and we both love turkey! So we invited all our family over and made a delicious Thanksgiving feast of roasted tender turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean and potato salad, creamed corn, salad with garlic vinaigrette, and corn bread and french bread. Not to mention a host of delicious desserts including pecan pie, French apple pie, American apple pie, vanilla ice cream, Oreo cheesecake, peanut butter and chocolate pie, and a variety of cupcakes.

The food was so delicious!

Needless to say, we were stuffed to maximum capacity. But more than that it was so good to have everyone together and celebrating as a family. My parents were there (who I am so thankful for), and Nino’s parents, our grandmother and her sister, our brother Eddie, Uncle Hajji, cousins Barni and Rachel and Rache’s boyfriend Carlos and some close friends as well. Such a great way to spend the holiday. I really am so grateful in so many ways.

Always good to have family together for the holidays!

A very dark day

Last Monday, while several of us here in Manila went about our daily business as usual (complaining about traffic, on our laptops in the office, or just cleaning the house or putting up Christmas decorations) over 40 people were killed in a ruthless execution style manner in a small province in Maguindanao some of them even being raped and beheaded.

It happened as supporters of Buluan Vice Mayor Toto Mangudadatu and Mangudadatu Vice Mayor Eden Mangudadatu and their companions were on their way to the Comelec office to file COCs at around 10:30 a.m. Toto Mangudadatu was not with the convoy and instead had asked his wife and sisters to file his candidacy for him. As the convoy was on its way, it was stopped by a small army of armed men and detoured after which, all the passengers in the vehicles were asked to step out of the car and were mercilessly riddled with bullets. They say that the Vice Mayor’s wife was raped before being killed and that six (or more) of the convoy were beheaded.

As if this wasn’t bad enough as is (and believe me, it is horrendous), twelve journalists who were with the convoy were mercilessly killed as well making this the single largest incident of media killing in the history of journalism. How did a country which was once said to have the freest press in Asia become the second most dangerous place in which to practice journalism next to Iraq? Now, probably sharing the top spot as Iraq come to think of it. This obviously did not just happen overnight. A culture of impunity in which only a handful (if we’re even that lucky) of journalist’s killers have been punished just encourages more killing.

I wept watching the news and seeing the daughter of one of the reporters weeping and saying she begged her father not to go with this convoy and that she had heard bad things had been happening in the region but her dad had said he had to go because this was he livelihood, how he supported their family and that he needed to pay for their tuition. Now, this faultless man who was just doing her job and had no political affiliations whatsoever has been murdered and dumped in a ditch with a pile of other bodies which also included a pregnant woman. No one was spared.

Flowers were offered by journalism students at a rally condemning the Maguindanao massacre at the foot of Chino Roces bridge yesterday (Photo by Jonjon Vicencio/The Philippine Star)

As is stands, international aid has already been re-examined. A lot of countries are wondering whether or not they should send aid to a country that blatantly abuses basic human rights. And now, in the light of what is being called the most senseless bloodbath of the year, our international partners are going to be all but convinced they should not send help our way, which is a terrible loss especially for the poor people still homeless and hopeless due to natural disasters.

The government has declared a state of emergency in the province and surrounding areas. They “claim” they are going to find out who did this, but like several other “claims” of the government I’ll believe it when I see it. I can only hope the people respond with a the kind of fiery vengeance that won’t allow the perpetrators of this crime to get away with it. Even if it takes lynch mobs to get justice, isn’t it about time justice was finally served? I am all for peaceful means of resolving conflict and I do not want to see any more lives wasted on this stupid political war, but sometimes when you are dealing with this kind of unintelligent brutal force, the only way to respond is in kind.

I am praying for a resolution to this travesty. It had better not be swept under the rug like so many other things in this country because the time has come for democracy to undergo its toughest test. Are we really a free people? I honestly don’t think so and haven’t for a very long time. It’s time to take a stand. Which side are you on?

 

Of vampires and werewolves…

Edward and Jacob…

Ten years ago, heck maybe even five years ago, these would have been two very regular names. They could have belonged to your friends, or your brothers, or your cousins. They could have been said in a conversation and glossed over without a second thought. These days, however, these two names can instigate hours of conversation, girlish shrieks, and even utter frenzy!

Thanks to Stephanie Meyer (with the help of Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner), Edward and Jacob are now the most popular male names of the decade spawning crazy drooling female fans to launch into debate over debate about which one is better – a vampire or a werewolf?

To me the answer is simple – a VAMPIRE. No questions, no doubts, no second thoughts. I adore Edward Cullen (and R. Pattz). I have been a Twilight fan ever since I first opened the first book a few years ago (and mind you, I tried VERY hard not to be since it was such a popular thing at the time and I wanted to rally against people calling it the next Harry Potter). But I could not deny its magnetic pull and I have often likened reading the books to crack. It’s just that addictive.

And now the movies have the same sort of pull. I can’t even remember how many times I watched Twilight (both in the movie houses and on DVD) and now since New Moon came out I have watched it thrice in just two days! I am crazy addicted and I feel butterflies in my stomach every time I see that pale-skinned golden-eyed wonder. Who wouldn’t after all? He is wicked gorgeous.

I love Edward Cullen and my heart broke for Bella when he left her.

At the same time though, I finally see (I didn’t when reading the book) why Jacob Black (kudos to Taylor L. for this) would be an appealing second choice for a confused and brokenhearted Bella. Not only is he the sunlight to darkness of Edward’s absence, but he is kind, funny, and caring. You can truly see how he brought Bella back to life when Edward’s leaving nearly killed her. I found myself feeling bad for him (something I never did when reading the novels) and in the end I just consoled myself by saying he too would find someone he can’t live without in the end.

Taylor Lautner gave Jacob Black a soul and made me see how he brought Bella back to life.

So did I like the movie? Isn’t it obvious?! I can’t wait until the next chapter in the cocaine-like saga of girl and vampire (June 30, 2010).

The Tube Flop… I love it!

I have always been a fan of flip flops. I think it stems from the fact that I am a hippie-child at heart and an Earth lover so I would always play around with flip flops and Birkenstocks and the like along with 100% cotton tee-shirts, hemp bags, and Bangkok beach pants. If I had my way I would forever be in a tee-shirt, worn in jeans, and flip flops. Okay, don’t get me wrong though – I can also appreciate a good pair of heels. I love shoes in general, but flip flops are my staple footwear – so much so that the cake topper of my wedding cake featured a replica of me in black flip flops (my husband’s replica was in Chuck Taylors).

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All kinds of different designs!

When Havaianas exploded onto the scene I couldn’t be happier. Suddenly flip flops became trendy and everyone was wearing them which meant no more people staring at me wondering if I had forgotten my shoes at home. Suddenly it was okay to pair your pretty summer dresses with rubber slippers. I was in heaven. I had ever color there was.

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Gotta love this fun new creation!

Now, I have found a new love. One that I know I will be wearing for years and years to come! I am so excited to wear these bad boys! But before I tell you what they are let me give you a little history of where they come from. They are made by Sanuk (which incidentally means happiness in Thai), the company that brings consumers a whole plethora of fun and comfortable footwear! The company was started back in 1997 when Jeff Kelley started making sandals out of inner tubes. From then on they went full-blown into developing footwear that was as much about funk as about function following their mantra Smile… Pass it On! Such a diverse and fun group… I heart them.

Which brings me to their new product for fun feisty flip flop loving gals like me – TUBE FLOPS!!! Tube whaaat?! Tube flops are flip flops with knee-high socks! Yup, socks attached to your slippers! Inspired by the cheeky and funky fashion in Asia where girls wore socks with their sandals. Tube flops can be paired with shorts, skirts, dresses, or even skinny jeans and leggings. They come in a variety of styles sure to suit everyone’s mood. You can wear them knee-high, thigh-high, or ankle-high, it all depends on you!

I know I will be sporting tube flops (in a variety of colors) this Christmas season! They are fun, cheeky, trendy, and just plain awesome! Don’t forget to grab a pair while supplies last! They are available at all Sanuk shops (Glorietta, Mall of Asia, Robinson’s Place, to name a few) and also at Rustans Department Stores.

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I am definitely going to be sporting these!

 

Making Boxing History

Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao has cemented a place for himself among the greats! Today he accomplished something that has never been done before. He is the successful and undisputed title holder in 7 divisions proving once and for all that he is indeed the pound-for-pound king of boxing! Those detractors who always want to say something bad about him should shut their mouths because Manny proved that he was all that … and more!

Bob Arum of Top Rank promotions even went so far as to say that Manny is the best boxer he has ever seen, including greats like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler in that statement. Simply put, Manny is the best right now and Mayweather fans who claim otherwise are just plain foolish. In their last two fights Mayweather chose an opponent who was smaller and lighter than him while Manny pursued one who was bigger and stronger. What does that say about them?

Manny Pacquiao prays in the ring before taking on Miguel Cotto during their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 14, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Now yes, I admit a general bias as I am an admitted Manny Pacquiao fanatic, but I also recognize a talent and heart in the People’s Champ that surpasses Mayweather by miles. Just when it comes to their motives for doing things or their scruples as boxers, Manny is already way ahead of the game.

In this particular bout, Manny’s speed, defensive skills, and overall take command attitude are ultimately what brought him victory. From the knockdowns in the third and fourth rounds it was already becoming obvious he was taking charge of the fight. Don’t get me wrong though, Cotto has nothing to be ashamed of, he fought admirably and with commitment continuing to fight until the very end though his corner wanted to stop it in the 11th round. I admire his passion, his warrior’s heart, and his grace. He came over and congratulated Manny right away when the fight was ultimately stopped by Referee Kenny Bayless.

Manny Pacquiao throws a left to the body of Miguel Cotto during their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 14, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao defeated Cotto by 12th round TKO. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Miguel Cotto is a classy fighter with amazing combinations, great skill, and sportsmanship behavior. I salute him! (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Ultimately Manny was the better fighter that night and showed how he has matured into one of the best boxers in the world. He overcame being one handed and having poor defense and has evolved into an incredible force inside the ring. People have no reason to doubt him anymore. (Not that I think they should have before.) He and amazing Freddie Roach really are the dream team of boxing.

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Incredible trainer Freddie Roach and his exceptional pupil Manny Pacquiao are an amazing team! (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

So what comes next? Mayweather? We will see I guess. While I believe Manny has nothing more to prove there are many who believe this fight should happen to forever silence any doubt. I have no doubts at all. In my mind, Manny is the champ! The undisputed pound-for-pound champion! In his post win interviews he was once more graceful and humble saying he just always does his best and smiling politely while jovially answering all the questions. He even said “He was just an ordinary fighter, just trying to beat his opponents”, at which point Freddie Roach pointed out “You are not ordinary, Manny”.

Congratulations Manny Pacquiao and thank you once again for bringing joy and happiness to our country. Many of our countrymen really needed this day especially after the devastation the typhoons wrecked last October. As Time magazine wrote – you truly are “The Great Hope” and the Philippines is always behind you 100%. WE LOVE PACMAN!!!

Filipinos wave their country's flag and celebrate in the streets of Manila on November 15, 2009 after Asian boxing icon Manny Pacquiao wins a technical stoppage of Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto to take the World Boxing Organisation welterweight title in Las Vegas. From its teeming slums to its strife-torn southern region, the boxing-crazy Philippines erupted in a frenzy of joy after Manny Pacquiao pummelled Puerto Rican champion Miguel Cotto in a history-making bout. (Photo by JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Sports Legends

I love sports! Anyone who knows me at all will know that I love watching amazing athletes getting it done on the court, or field, or ring, or whatever the case may be. My passion sport du jour may change every now and again but the fact remains that I am a screaming fan in the stands and I can get pretty violent when it comes to supporting the athletes I like.

I think I like sports for more reasons than those that just appear on the surface. Sure I appreciate the talent and the hard work athletes put into their training but I love sports as a whole. I love the camaraderie involved, the teamwork, the way sports brings people together to cheer for a common cause and the spirits that can instantly get uplifted from one victory. It’s fun, it’s healthy, and it’s a great way to spend time with friends and family and have lots of good clean (inspiring) fun!

Some of my favorite times with people have been watching sports. Watching Pete Sampras get his third straight Wimbledon title, watching Roger Federer just break his record at the last Wimbledon, watching the NBA finals (even after the Nuggets and Suns got eliminated), and of course watching any Manny Pacquiao fight! There is just such a great feeling from watching your favorites win!

And now, on the eve of another big Manny fight, I am nervous as usual. I can’t wait to watch, and I hope and pray the people’s champ can win once again! And on top of that, NBA season has started again and my boy Nash is at the top of his game right now. A lot of people said he was getting too old but he proved them wrong with double-double games even achieving a 20points-21assists night. Crazy! So, while I definitely love clothes, shopping, and lipgloss and all those girly-girl things – I am a bonafide sports fanatic and proud of it! Here’s a tribute to my favorite sports icons!

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Pete Sampras is one of the greatest tennis players to ever live and my childhood sports icon!

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Steve Nash is one of the greatest Point Guards in NBA history and an all-around nice guy! Who wouldn't admire that?

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The Philippines' pride Manny Pacquiao has overcome incredible odds to be the pound-for-pound King of the world!

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Not only is he gorgeous, Roger Federer is crazily talented and has many many more years of tennis excellence ahead!

The Two C’s of Halloween Part Two

Now my other favorite C from Halloween stems from a lifelong love affair with the theater. I have always loved acting and watching plays and enjoying all aspects of putting on a show: becoming another character.. living another life… even just for a night. I am such a theater baby and that means I love to get decked out. And I love spending Halloween with people who enjoy costumes as much as I do. That’s the fun part – dressing up with all your friends and family and enjoying the night together.

I am so happy that people have gotten more into dressing up now here in the Philippines. In the U.S. it was always a big deal and we made such an effort every year to put together the coolest costumes. From my childhood I remember being a Mexican dancer, a Milkmaid, a bumblebee, a pirate, a angel… and too many to even remember!

Now that I am older I try to put a lot of thought into my costumes all the way down to planning every accessory and detail. I think putting costumes together may actually be a good alternative career for me. When I made my Jedi costume (full on based on George Lucas’ movie costume specs. I even wore purple contact lenses to match my violet light saber.) My friend Eleanor is exceptional at that too. We kept talking about putting up our own Halloween costume business before but that never really happened. Now I just enjoy making costumes for friends. Not that my friends need it – as I said they are amazing at coming up with costumes of their own!

Here are some of my favorites of friends over the years: (Borrowed a lot of their photos from Facebook)

Nino and I

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One of my favorite Halloween's ever. We all went as animals (bees and bunnies) or civil servants (firefighters and soldiers!)

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Pain does not exist in this dojo, does it?! NO SENSEI!!!

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Rachel, Barni, Tans, Gen, John, and Carlo

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Rache as every man's gorgeous dream nurse having a drink with Tans' wicked hot Snow White

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My two favorite Tony Stark costumes

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Tans’ killer Anaksunamum (from the Mummy) outfit complete with full-on gold body paint!

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Awesome! Rache as Arwen, Tans as Anaksunamun, and Gen as Akasha. These gorgeous ladies went all out!

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Gen as the delightfully tempting Lady Anne Boleyn

Tim Yap – The undisputed King of Halloween who easily deserves an entry all his own!

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Who could forget him as Optimus Prime?!

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And some of my other favorite costumes I have seen (and help create) over the years! Incredible!

Elly’s tequila bottle and Dors’ Sith costume. I made the costume (movie specs!) he did the face painting.

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Cholo's extremely politically incorrect terrorist costume right after 9/11 is still unbelievable!

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The best Scooby gang I have ever seen!

Aubrey makes a hotter Hooter girl than the real ones!

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Quite easily one of the funniest things I have ever seen!

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Paolo Valenciano's scarecrow was amazing!

And I agree with my friend Franco… easily the best costume of this year goes to this adorable kid!

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Russel from UP! How cute!

The Two C’s of Halloween Part One

I have always liked Halloween. Other than Christmas it is my favorite time of year. I think I enjoy it so much because everyone around me is as into it as I am. That makes it fun. To me – Halloween would not be complete without the two important C’s that make up the holiday. That is: Candy and Costumes!

Halloween would not be complete without either one of these two things! I’ll talk about the first one first. Candy. Who does not love candy? I used to get so excited as a little girl whenever Halloween rolled around. I think the concept of FREE candy just flew over my head and I couldn’t believe it happened every year. Plus, growing up in the United States made Halloween and trick-or-treating even more fun and crazy. Kids would get all decked out (and full on) and trick-or-treat at night going back and forth between scaring themselves and collecting as much candy as possible.

Then afterwards we could go home, spill out the contents of our little pumpkins or bags and begin the trading session of the night. For me it was all about the Snickers, Whatchamacallits, Butterfingers, and Skors! I loved those the most. I would happily trade away Baby Ruth, Milkey Way, Paydays, Kitkats, and several other candies. And then after we traded away what we could we would usually happily munch the night away telling ghost stories or watching horror movies. Good times.

Growing up things didn’t change. I must have trick-or-treated well into my late teens as evident by several trips to the dentist for the other C (cavities! Boo!). In the Philippines Halloween and trick-or-treating only really picked up over the last couple of years and kids finally really started coming around yearly and costume parties finally became actual costume parties with people decking out. I love it! Here are some of the preparations we put together in our last two Halloween BBQs in our home. We plan on making this an annual Halloween celebration!

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Nino and Mom with the HAND bowl!

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Us with our Candy!

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Extra bins of candy inside!

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Trick-or-treaters are always welcome at our house!

Here are some awesome costumes we saw while giving out candy and photos of Nino and Ces taking around our adorable nephew Jordy to get candy of his own!

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We always have fun with Jordy!

Jack O’Lantern

I love Halloween! As I plan on sharing there are many many reasons why I adore this holiday. I’ll get into that later. Right off the bat though I want to share our annual Halloween tradition. Nino and I both grew up in the United States so we both appreciate all the intricacies of Halloween. This includes having the perfect Halloween pumpkin!

Now I have always just known that we are supposed to carve pumpkins on Halloween never wondering about this history behind it. The other year I finally got around to asking – why do we do this? We pick out produce, carve funny or scary faces onto them and light them from within, this has to be a good story.

Well the Irish don’t disappoint. There is a legend there of a drunken farmer who, because of his dealings with the devil forced him to be turned away from both the gates of heaven and hell upon his death. Forced to wander the darkness of purgatory, Jack made an o’lantern from a turnip and lump of coal burning to guide his lost soul. Every Halloween communities would make their own turnip lamps to scare him and other wayward souls away. Eventually the turnip was substituted for a pumpkin.

So that is why to this day people pick pumpkins, carve them, and display them outdoors on Halloween. And we are no exception. Here are some photos of Nino carving our pumpkin two years ago (they didn’t import them on time this year. Boo!), as well as a step-by-step guide on how to carve your own next Halloween!

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Step One: With a pumpkin carving knife (be sure to use the right one because a less strong knife will break). Carve out the top of your pumpkin and remove.

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Step Two: Using your knife clean the pumpkin top. Then using your hands and a spoon or scooper, remove all the pumpkin insides including the little flesh inside and all the seeds. (You can actually save the seeds and bake them – delicious!)

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Step Three: Draw or trace a guide of your face onto the pumpkin so you have a marker and then carve out the eyes, nose, and mouth or whatever it is you want for your pumpkins face. Try to use strong solid strokes to make a clean carving. You can use the knife to clean it up later on.

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Step Four: After you have cleaned your pumpkins face. Put a small candle inside, light it, and close him up. Now he is ready for display outside!

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