The Jack-O-Lantern: Then and Now!

Hi Friends!!  Before we start today I wanted to give you my warmest gratitude for all of your support.  Last week in London Amara Interior Blog Awards announced the winning blogs in different categories. The way it works is that first blogs were nominated, then all of you voted (THANK YOU!) for your favorites in each category to form the short list!  A panel of prestigious judges researched the chosen blogs and  picked their favorite! And the winner for the Best US Interior Blog is…………..

I honestly was shocked and was so sad I couldn’t go in person to be a part of the event and meet all the other amazing participants and bloggers!!  I definitely was there in spirit! To see the full Amara Awards Ceremony click here.  To see a list of the winners click here.  I have looked at  all of their blogs and have picked up some great new inspirational reads! Again, I am so blessed to have all of you!!

A Now For Halloween!

As far back as 1663, the term,”jack-o’-lantern”, meant a man with a lantern, or a night watchman. Just a decade or so later, it began to be used to refer to the mysterious lights sometimes seen at night over bogs, swamps, and marshes. These ghost lights—variously called jack-o’-lanterns, hinkypunks, hobby lanterns, corpse candles, fairy lights, will-o’-the-wisps, and fool’s fire—are created when gases from decomposing plant matter ignite as they come into contact with electricity or heat or as they oxidize. For centuries before this scientific explanation was known, people told stories to explain the mysterious lights. In Ireland, dating as far back as the 1500s, those stories often revolved around a guy named Jack. There are many stories about the legend of Stingy Jack. Here is one of the most popular!

This made me curious about the evolution of the jack-o’-lantern and I thought it would be fun to see the “then” and “now”!

Did you know that the first vegetables to be carved weren’t pumpkins?



They were turnips, beets, potatoes, and gourds!! They were stuffed with coal, wood embers or candles as impromtu lanterns. As a prank, kids would carry these glowing vegetables to make their friends think they were Stingy Jack or another lost soul!


People began placing their own versions of such lanterns in windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. It’s a good thing this creepy guy is in a museum in Ireland!



Eventually, around the 1800s, immigrants brought the tradition to America where the native pumpkin was plentiful and much easier to carve than a turnip. This photo is circa 1884! The carvings were very basic and we started to see “less evil” takes on the jack-o-lantern.

The early typical jack-o’-lanterns were simply carved with jagged teeth and triangular eyes.
Boy, have we come a long way since then!! Look at this replica of Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. A quick search on Pinterest will produce hundreds of pumpkin carving ideas including carving tool sets (that come with a little saw!), pumpkin carving apps, party planning, and a scary amount of sophisticated patterns and designs!
And you know I can’t resist showing you some clever ways to add some pumpkin creativity to your home. The weather in Houston in October is unpredictable, but a little pumpkin glow in the fireplace is always nice!
These floral-inspired carved pumpkins would add beauty to any garden or tablescape!
Or how about this cleverly-carved house on an entryway table? It says welcome to me!!
Each year at the Keene Pumpkin Festival, residents from Keene, New Hampshire attempt to amass the largest number of lit jack-o’-lanterns in one place, trying to meet or beat the world record. (which they have held for many years) The festival is also referred to as “Let it Shine”! The pumpkin count is generally in the thousands and in 2013, they broke the world record with 30,581.
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the evolution of the jack-o’-lantern and have a safe and fun holiday!!
 Last signing of October!! 
Until next time, have a great week!
xo, Leslie
 2016-07-22 16.49.23
Segreto Vignettes is a great holiday gift and going fast! Order your copy here!

If you are interested in hosting an event or carrying the book  please don’t hesitate to reach out! Email for all inquiries! We love to visit new cities!!!

A Home Ready to Give Thanks!
Design Inspiration: Bayou Bend & Ima Hogg


  1. joni Webb says:

    ok some of those are downright scary looking – the old ones. yikes!! cute story.

    Congrats again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so happy for you!!! and proud!!!! what a feat and much deserved. amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      VERY SCARY! You sweet lady are my mentor!! You have paved the way for so many!!!! From the bottom of my heart! I am grateful! xo

  2. No doubt you have the best blog! Congratulations! I’m so proud of you all!

  3. Corrine Grace says:

    Thank you for the historical background of Jack o lanterns and Stingy Jack. Also I found the carvings unbelievable. HAPPY HALLOWEEN . Great Blog

  4. Patricia Miller says:

    Monday wake up with Segreto Secrets, well you’ve done again
    Leslie, the sincereist congratulations on your most deserved win at the Amara Awards
    Hope to catch up with Gina Ciancio when I am in Sydney
    Until next Monday, Patricia Miller

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      Hi Patricia!! Thank you so much for that! It has really been fun connecting with so many form all over!!! xo

  5. Kathie Flournoy says:

    Leslie – Congratulations on your award! So well deserved. I always like it when I vote for the winner! Not surprised that you didn’t mention this award when I saw you Saturday ! Guess I need to add humble to all your many talent descriptions. Loving your new book and was so thrilled to see my chairs in there! Thanks! Kathie

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      Hi Kathie! Of course they were in there–so super beautiful!! Have a great week and thank you sososo much for your well wishes and all the beautiful things you find for others!!!!!! xo

  6. Amy Cunningham says:

    Yea! I just knew you would win–congratulations Leslie!!! You deserve it!!!

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      I love you miss Amy!! You have been such a great support to me and such a sweet friend! xo

  7. Sarah West & Associates says:

    Congratulations Leslie! This is a well-deserved honor! Your talents and beautiful finishes reach far and wide! Thank you for creating the perfect canvas with your plaster and finishes for my projects!
    Sarah West
    Sarah West & Associates, LLc

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      You are the sweetest!! With our all of your amazing projects to inspire me I wouldn’t be able to inspire others!! Thank you sweet friend!

  8. Lynn Ellen says:

    I so enjoy your blog-look forward to your email notification every Monday! You are blessed with an artistic talent and share your skills through your business, storefront, books, and blog. Congratulations-so happy for you. Isn’t it awesome when we are recognized for our craft and loving spirit. Thanks for always sharing!!! God’s blessings today and always!

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      Hi Lynn Ellen!! I am so glad you enjoy it! I am blessed to have so many talented artisans with me and so super blessed to have such a warm and supportive group of friends that I feel like I have coffee with every Monday morning!!! xo

  9. Daniza Suarez says:

    Congratulations! I love your blog

  10. Congratulations on your award!!! You and your blog are such an inspiration to me.

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      Hi Elaine!! Thank you so much!!! I am so glad that my sharing has inspired!! I also so appreciate your support! xo

  11. CONGRATULATIONS, Segreto!!! Proud of you in Houston and now everyone knows!
    Love your gorgeous work and terrific award-winning blogs!

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      Hi Barbara!! Thank you so much!!! It was certainly a big surprise for me!! Thanks so much for being such a big support! xo

  12. Congrats Leslie!!!! So exciting!
    Courtnay Elias

  13. Carla Glaze says:

    Leslie, so excited for you! Congratulations! You are very deserving of this honor! I voted! Always look forward to your posts. Can’t wait to get your new book.

  14. congratulations, leslie! i voted for you! looked like such a fun night, and i don’t know anything about blog awards but am already thinking of campaigning next year just to have an excuse to go to that fabulous event! share the secrets to getting on that short list, segreto! hahahaha. xox

    • Leslie Sinclair says:

      It looked like so much fun and so sad I couldn’t be there for the event!!! Your blog is so fab, you will make it for sure!!!

  15. Beyond thrilled for you, my friend, and well deserved!! So many fabulous accomplishments and you know we are your books biggest fans!

  16. Congratulations Leslie! Another well deserved honor!

  17. HI Leslie! Congratulations!! You are such a talent, thanks for blogging and sharing your special gifts in both your books and your blog. xo

  18. Leslie, I am so excited for you. You are the hardest working person I know. The award is very well deserved. Congratulations!!