Printable Pumpkin Carving Patterns that Go Beyond Halloween: Entrepreneurs in the Making

Printable Pumpkin Carving Patterns that Go Beyond Halloween: Entrepreneurs in the Making


Printable pumpkin carving patterns are all the rage for Halloween, but the hunt for free pumpkin stencils continues on until Thanksgiving. Find out how pumpkin carving patterns may actually prepare your child for becoming an entrepreneur.

Printable Pumpkin Carving Patterns Are Press Release Fodder

The average hobbyist undoubtedly starts with printable pumpkin carving patterns that are available online for free. Pumpkin stencils that are a bit more challenging have a small price tag attached. Of course, even if you print out pumpkin stencils, there is no guarantee that your pumpkin carving will be anything as beautiful and breathtaking as the photos that accompany the stencils.

So why would a Halloween, 2009 press release discuss the availability of printable pumpkin carving patterns and free pumpkin stencils? At first glance it appeared as though Press Zoom missed the boat on pumpkin carving. A closer look at the popularity of pumpkin carving patterns reveals that they are actually at the onset of a wave of popularity.

Pumpkin Carving Dresses Up the Thanksgiving Dinner Table

Fabulous Foods showcases a soup tureen made from a hollowed out and carved pumpkin. The site offers a free printable pumpkin carving pattern to make the tureen a reality for your dinner table as well. From pumpkin carving, it is only a hop, skip and a jump to carving watermelons and all types of gourds.

When Pumpkin Carving Patterns Turn a Hobbyist into a Businesswoman

The Gazette tells the story of Dori Davis-Beck, who found that pumpkin carving can translate into festive center pieces and handmade gifts for friends, family members and even business contacts. What started out as a hobby and booth at the Oktoberfest, soon turned into a lucrative business opportunity when strangers commissioned work and companies paid to see their logos memorialized – and lit up – in gourds. Her business, Custom Carved Creations, is still of the kitchen table variety, but the dream to have a shop is there.

Professional Pumpkin Carving Is a Business Niche for Aspiring Artists

Dori Davis-Beck is not the only artist, who sees pumpkin carving patterns as a means of artistic release and commerce. Patrick Moser is a professional pumpkin carver, who specializes in “Gumpkins.” He makes appearances with his artwork. David LaRochelle works as an author, illustrator and pumpkin carver. He specializes in school presentations. Steve Dahlke found his niche with huge pumpkin carvings (we’re talking 500 pounds) and works as a professional pumpkin carver and landscaper with an eye for the atypical design opportunities. All artists got the pumpkin carving bug as kids.

Perhaps supplying junior with printable pumpkin carving patterns and encouraging the use of free pumpkin stencils for watermelon carvings might be preparing her/him for a future career as a professional artist.

What Not to Wear: Miriam the Nudist Poet Entrepreneur

Miriam the Nudist Poet Entrepreneur

At the start of the show, What Not to Wear makeover recipient Miriam appeared to rank sky high in the Most Unusual What Not to Wear Subjects List. Described as a 30 year old poet/actress/entrepreneur, Miriam’s other distinguishing characteristic is that she’s a nudist. What Not to Wear frequently illustrated this with a photo that had modesty bands of What Not to Wear logos across Miriam’s body (which, while tacky, was probably less porn-like than black bands blocking out the good bits). By the end of the show, however, Miriam turned out to be one of the most likable, well-adjusted, and foxy makeover gals the show has had in awhile.

What Not to Wear Miriam — The Ambush

I said it last week, too–I’m not liking the corny intros Stacy and Clinton are doing to these episodes. Last week our favorite What Not to Wear duo ended up as the lingerie hanger in the middle of a burlesque show. This week they put on a beat poetry performance describing Miriam’s fashion faux pas, to a mixed response from the bewildered audience. Stacy and Clinton are fun enough on their own–we don’t need super stagey stuff to keep us interested.

What Not to Wear really stretched the PG rating this week with Miriam’s erotic poetry reading, where she opened her robe to display her sheer black lace bra and curvy frame. Halfway through the verse, Stacy and Clinton ambushed Miriam with their bright lights and loud introduction to the show, and Miriam looked alternately confused, annoyed, and frightened. Stacy and Clinton were worried until Miriam finally let out a surprised laugh. “Do you want the money or not?” Stacy asked, and despite some obvious reservations, Miriam just couldn’t resist the lure of that $5000.

What Not to Wear Miriam — Okay, Maybe She’s Not that Weird

Anyone that shows up on What Not to Wear with a hyphenated career path (actress/poet/entrepreneur) comes off as someone who doesn’t know what the heck they’re going to do with their life. The audience may also guiltily feel that the person won’t actually accomplish any of these things. However, Miriam’s “entrepreneur” status didn’t actually sound all that off the wall.

Stacy and Clinton were impressed when Miriam described her business plan–to create personal documentaries for clients. She collected photos, narrative, and film of families to put together their own personal history. The What Not to Wear stylists felt this was a viable career that would have substantial demand–and she needed a wardrobe worthy of that position.

We saw Miriam pursuing her poetry, and after the What Not to Wear makeover, it was clear she was hot enough to be an actress/performer/model. Add that to her clever business idea, and Miriam’s hyphenated career path didn’t seem so crazy.

What Not to Wear Miriam — That Whole Nudist Thing

Miriam wanted it made clear to the What Not to Wear audience that “Nudity is freedom.” After surviving a 7 year relationship where she was controlled and ordered to dress super-conservatively, Miriam broke free and started wearing as little as possible. She loved her curves and wanted to share them with the world. When Clinton said he was fine with his own nudity until he walked past a full-length mirror, Miriam replied “You have issues!”

Miriam became tearful, however, when her friends and family talked about her odd and skimpy clothing choices, referring to her as a “hot mess”. They felt Miriam was smart and fun and had lots of potential, but they thought her wardrobe didn’t reflect that. Miriam said she felt clothing was “conforming”, by forcing her body to fit into clothes a certain way. She admitted, however, that if the people closest to her thought she was a hot mess, then it couldn’t be a good image for her budding business. She was ready for the What Not to Wear team to help her out.

What Not to Wear Miriam — Outfit Number One

Miriam shared a laugh with Stacy and Clinton in the 360 mirror when her large, asymmetrical Afro actually blocked the What Not to Wear stylists from seeing what she looked like. When they did manage to squeeze in, they found her in a loose red nylon skirt down to her ankles, and an orchid print halter that wasn’t doing anything to hold her curves in place. Stacy tugged on the halter straps, pulling Miriam’s chest more into alignment, but Miriam wasn’t impressed. “This outfit highlights what I have to offer,” she protested.

On the first What Not to Wear mannequin, the outfit included a bold print blouse with a tie neck, and a ruffled collar velvet jacket. Miriam didn’t like the blouse, and said the jacket looked “crafty”. Stacy and Clinton cut off her criticisms and told her that the point was to maintain her artistic style while maintaining a level of sophistication her current outfit did not have.

What Not to Wear Miriam — Outfit Number Two

Miriam next brought her business outfit into the What Not to Wear 360 mirror. It had a cute, double-buttoned jacket, but Stacy and Clinton pointed out that it was made of sweatshirt material. The brown wide-legged trousers were the right shape, but they were constructed like yoga pants. Looking into the 360 mirror, Miriam admitted her clunky black footwear looked like “nurse’s shoes”.

The second What Not to Wear mannequin was dressed up in a pale teal tweed skirt suit that Miriam loved. Paired with a bold print top and plenty of bling, it was sophisticated workwear with a creative style. Miriam was a little worried about the added jewelry, as she felt it was one more thing layered on top of her preferred nakedness.

What Not to Wear Miriam — Outfit Number Three

Miriam entered the What Not to Wear 360 mirror with her dressy outfit, a loosely constructed bold print 60s style mini-dress and knee-high black leather boots. While Miriam didn’t look too bad in this feisty outfit, Stacy and Clinton criticized the sack-like nature of the dress and suggested something slinkier. Miriam said she didn’t want something so overt that men were just wanting to grab at her–she quickly qualified that in a certain context it was okay to show everything, but not just for a night out. Miriam forgot about their criticisms when Clinton sweetly said that the dress was “not good enough for the girl in it.”

The What Not to Wear stylists then displayed one of the sexiest and most awesome dresses they’ve ever had on the show–a leopard-print slim dress with a ruched waist and a lace-filled plunging neckline. Stacy, Clinton, and the entire What Not to Wear audience were shocked when Miriam said she didn’t like it. Standing there in a cacophony of primary color blocks, Miriam said the animal print was “too crazy” and just made her want to run away. Stacy and Clinton looked like they wanted to run away.

What Not to Wear Miriam — Dumping Everything

Miriam’s existing wardrobe was a strange mix of bustiers and shapeless turtleneck floor-length dresses. Miriam’s love of nudity apparently influenced her to buy baggy things that wouldn’t constrict her, but she didn’t realize that she didn’t look like a free spirit in them–only dowdy and shapeless. As Stacy ripped the millionth thing from her hands, Miriam protested “But it’s cute!” Stacy was determined. “Whenever you say ‘it’s cute’, I know it doesn’t fit you.” The argyle sequined vest was the last straw, and everything Miriam owned went into the What Not to Wear trash can.

Miriam was a little overwhelmed when she faced the What Not to Wear cameras later. She was nervous over the idea of having to rebuild an entire wardrobe in two days, when it took her years to compile her current collection.

What Not to Wear Miriam — Everyone Woman’s Downfall

On What Not to Wear Shopping Day One, Miriam relented and went in for a bra fitting, or to see the “bra whisperer,” she joked. The saleslady did a nice job, talking about keeping her chest within the edges of her frame for a more slimming look. She got Miriam into a bra that didn’t diminish her curves–just brought them up a little more to better define her hourglass shape.

In a mirror to her current wardrobe, Miriam tried on turtleneck dresses that Clinton lamented resembled blankets or throws, and little girl dresses she could barely squeeze herself into. As the What Not to Wear cameras captured her in an unflattering black bodysuit and strange Asian-style brocade suit, Stacy and Clinton discussed an issue all women have fallen victim to: talking yourself into an outfit.

Miriam was doing what we all do. If we stand a certain way, if we wear a long blouse over it, if we hold our stomachs in–then the outfit will work. Stacy and Clinton rightly advised that you need to love an outfit the moment you put it on, and should never settle. Obviously if something will work if the sleeves are shortened or some other minor adjustment is made, What Not to Wear has always advised buying and tailoring it. We all know, though, if we’re actually going to get it tailored or just say we’ll do it.

What Not to Wear Miriam — The Rules Plus Personal Taste

Miriam had a breakthrough on her What Not to Wear Shopping Day Two. Stacy and Clinton asked her to pick out a dress she loved at first sight, and a dress that she was perhaps not so crazy about but followed The Rules. Miriam picked a black and white print wrap dress that she thought followed the rules, and she was surprised how much she liked it when she tried it on. Stacy and Clinton loved the hourglass shape it gave her.

“So I need to pull more clothes?” Miriam asked. Clinton agreed that shopping sometimes takes tenacity, that you have to just try on a lot of stuff until you find something that works. Miriam then tried on her own choice, a multi-colored print dress with a ruffled neckline and belted waist. Miriam was thrilled when Stacy and Clinton told her she looked great in the waist-defining dress and that it was a good blend of her personal taste and the What Not to Wear rules. Miriam showed the damage from her previous relationship when she said how good it felt to show who she was and be complimented, rather than receiving a negative response.

What Not to Wear Miriam — Adding the Final Touches

What Not to Wear hair stylist Ted discussed Miriam’s huge volume of hair and found out that she loved it. Ted decided to add a reddish brown color to her hair to complement her skin tone, and told her that she needed to have an Afro that was up-to-date and not so reminiscent of the 60s  amp; 70s. Using scissors, he did a “free hand cut” to shorten the top layers, creating a more round, springy, and flirty style than what she’d been wearing previously. It was startling how much the color warmed up her skin, and she loved that she could wear her hair down over her forehead or pushed back. I personally liked the bangs look on her the best.

Next up was What Not to Wear makeup artist Carmindy. She kept the look simple, starting with a little spray-on foundation to even skin tone. She applied cream blush on the apples of Miriam’s cheeks, then smoothed sparkling brown shadow over her eyelids. Carmindy added mascara to the top and bottom lashes, and then finished off the look with a berry lip gloss she felt was “made for” Miriam. “You’ve gone from cute to smokin’ hot!” Carmindy said, spinning the chair around to face the mirror.

At first Miriam was startled by her What Not to Wear makeover. She said she wasn’t used to looking so much like a “porcelain” doll. After a few moments, she said she was starting to like it, and she and Carmindy exchanged hugs.

What Not to Wear Miriam — The Final Reveal

For her first What Not to Wear reveal, Miriam was a statuesque beauty in a turquoise print wrap style blouse with a jeweled waist, black dress pants and heels. (The gorgeous blouse is by Trina Turk; the trousers by Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.) She looked like a model, gorgeous and sophisticated. “I see the difference now,” Miriam said. She also told Stacy and Clinton that seeing her new shape in the mirror made her feel that a bra was “not conformist but feminine”, though she honestly admitted it wasn’t all that comfortable.

For her second What Not to Wear reveal, Miriam donned a blue-gray and orange print blouse, soft blue-gray cardigan, jeans, and a bright orange scarf looped around her neck. She showed off her jeweled accessories and seemed happy that she could look chic but still show off her personal style. (The cool blouse and jewelry were bought at Lee Lee’s Valise.)

The third What Not to Wear reveal was a stunning blue and gray dress with angled seaming that dramatically highlighted her hourglass figure. (The WNTW website lists the dress as a Jones New York gray/purple layered dress, from Bloomingdales. See comments section.) Miriam was practically jumping up and down, exclaiming “I look so good!” Clinton told her that she was a blessed rarity on What Not to Wear, in that she loved her body both with and without clothes. He actually sounded a little envious. Miriam said she was pleased with her new wardrobe, and thought it was “authoritative” yet “relaxed”.

What Not to Wear Miriam — The Verdict

We often learn about style and self-acceptance from a good What Not to Wear episode, but the difference this time was that Miriam taught us as much as Stacy and Clinton did. Though she had suffered from a self-esteem-damaging relationship, Miriam’s response was to throw all of that out and embrace her looks and her body completely. Her frustrations with clothing came from not being able to share her awesomeness with the world, and that is a refreshing attitude on What Not to Wear.

Miriam’s friends and family were thrilled with her new look, and it’s a good bet that Miriam’s hyphenated career path will flourish with the combination of her outgoing personality and new sassy-yet-sophisticated wardrobe. I think What Not to Wear has had a bit of a Renaissance this season, where they’ve worked harder to embrace people’s personal styles and let them be themselves in the best possible way.

In this episode, Miriam got to keep the hair style that she loved, but Ted updated and colored it to make her look even more beautiful. Carmindy kept the makeup simple and neutral to suit Miriam’s preferences–but with just enough sparkle to match Miriam’s personality and wardrobe. Best of all, rather than telling Miriam to button up her large chest underneath a restrictive jacket, they got her into figure-flattering V-neck blouses and snug-fitting dresses. This is a pivotal moment for curvy girls everywhere, and a step in the right direction for What Not to Wear. After all, Stacy and Clinton have always said to love the body you have now and dress it to its best advantage. This week, Miriam supplied the love and Stacy and Clinton provided the wardrobe.

Watch What Not to Wear on TLC, Friday nights at 9/8c. Check your local listings for encore showings and repeats of previous episodes.


Refinance Your Mortgage and Save Money

Save Money

With all the hubbub about the mortgage industry right now, you may be feeling you should stay away from mortgage lenders. But at least one positive thing has come out from all economy troubles…low interest rates. Rates are at record lows right now, making it a great time to refinance your mortgage.

If you currently have a mortgage, check to see what your rate is. The rule of thumb is that if you can lower your interest rate by a point or more, you should refinance. For example, our currently mortgage interest rate is 6.875% and we have the opportunity to refinance at 5.5%. This change will save us over $120 on our monthly payment, not to mention thousands of dollars in interest payments…definitely worth it.

A great resource for determining the saves is They have tons of financial calculators including a refinancing one. The site also provides national interest rate averages and will even give you suggestions on mortgage lenders in your area.

For the ease of refinancing, you may be better off contacting your current lender to see what rates they are offering. Also check other institutions in your area for a comparison. Most lenders will post their current rates on their websites. This is an easy way to research rates in your area. Also, look for a large capacity lender. Smaller banks make money off of selling their mortgages to larger banks. If you start out at a large bank, you may be able to get a lower rate.

Still be weary of the “too good to be true” lender. Go with a lender that is reputable…do your research. Do not sign any papers until you feel entirely comfortable with your lender and the terms of the loan.

Also, when calculating your savings, be sure to include closing costs. Closing costs often vary due to the amount being borrowed, but figuring about $2000 is a good average. Often these fees can be rolled into your refinance, but you will still need to pay at least the appraisal fee upfront.

Not only can you save money, you can also save years of payment. Be sure to ask about shorter term mortgages that may not save you money on your monthly payment, but will surely save you thousands in interest payments by paying off your home in less time. Consider reducing from a 30 year to a 20 or even 15 year. If you have a 20 or 15 year, look at a 10 year or the rare 7 year. You will save big time that way. If you have ever paid attention to the amortization schedule, you will see the huge chunk of your monthly payment goes towards interest. This is a great way to pay less to your lender…more money in your pocket.

Depending on the type of loan you currently have, you may qualify for a streamline refinance which can save you time and money on closing costs. Ask your lender if you qualify for that program.

Now is the time to refinance. Get online and start your research, then call you lender to begin saving. It may seem intimidating, but you will be glad that you did…I know I am!

New Home Price Negotiating Tips: How to Negotiate Home Prices and Terms with Home Sellers

The following is a guest post from Houston, Texas real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles.

Overall Home Price

The most obvious new home negotiation point is the overall home price. When determining the price to be offered for the home, it is best to use the asking price of the home as a last resort. This number is typically just what the owners want to receive for the house and may or may not reflect its actual value. Working with a Realtor, comparables of recently sold homes in the area can be used to determine an appropriate home price. Use an average of homes that are similar in size, design and maintenance level.

If the real estate market in the area is a seller’s market, be prepared to pay top dollar for the home. The buyer may even have to compete with other offers when the offer is made which gives the seller the upper hand in the negotiation process. If it is a buyer’s market, the buyer may be able to make a low-ball offer that is below the perceived fair market value of the home.

Home Sale Contract Contingencies

In addition to overall price, the buyer can also negotiate based on other terms or contingencies. For instance, the sales contract may be contingent on an appraisal of at least the offer, an approved mortgage loan at a certain interest rate and a satisfactory inspection of the home.

New Home Concessions and Terms in Sales Contract

In a buyer’s market, the buyer can likely negotiate additional concessions into the contract such as a carpet or paint allowance or additional sod and landscaping. A buyer may also negotiate a portion or all of the closing costs into the price of the home. For instance, the buyer may make an offer of $200,000 for a home that also includes the seller paying for $5,000 in closing costs. This is in essence offering the seller $195,000 for the home.

Depending on the buyer’s situation, it may be necessary to negotiate certain terms into the sales contract. These terms could include the sale of the buyer’s home before this sale is complete. Or it may include a shortened or extended time before the home is closed.

A sales contract should not be signed unless all terms have been reviewed by both the buyer and the seller. Once the contract is signed, it will be difficult to walk away from the contract without giving up the retainer that was paid by the buyer upon acceptance of the offer. Negotiate the sales price and terms before signing and know that if it is not in the contract, the buyer nor the seller can be held to it.