Have you decorated your home for the fall holidays yet?  I decided to do a little something different for this fall.  Instead of spending a lot of money on fake pumpkins and other decorations that I would later need to find storage space for – I went a more ‘natural’ route with a little help from the produce aisle.

Of course, you can find the expected pumpkins and gourds.  BUT, my goal was to find other types of fruits and vegetables to use as well.

fall holidays

Here are the results of my shopping trip and the display I made.  It is all natural and while there are a few gourds and pumpkins – there are also a few other produce items that are not often found in a fall centerpiece. 

fall holidays

Here are some of what I came home with – acorn squash, artichokes, green apples, red onions, oranges, limes, a Kabocha squash, red pears and miniature pumpkins to go along with my large heirloom pumpkin.

Before creating my main centerpiece, I decided to see how many smaller arrangements I could make from my fruits and vegetables.

So, I pulled out a variety of serving dishes and vases and got started…

fall holidays

I placed a green/orange acorn squash, two gourds, an artichoke, a red pear, a white miniature pumpkin and a single lime in my sweet grass basket that I purchased in South Carolina, earlier this year.

I really like how all of these colors look like the changing leaves of fall (of which, we have very little in the desert 😉

fall holidays

A combination of red onions, limes and miniature pumpkins look great in the wooden bread bowl that my husband made for me.

The tablecloth was my grandmother’s and has seen countless wedding receptions and dinner parties while she lived.  She gave it to me before she died years ago and sadly, it doesn’t see a lot of action in my house.  

fall holidays

This may look like a smaller green pumpkin, but you would be wrong.  It is actually a Kabocha squash that I found in the produce aisle of my local supermarket.  I just love it’s small size and great color.

fall holidays

Did you know that pumpkins are considered a squash?  It makes sense then, that other types of squash, like the acorn squash, above, would look great in fall displays.

fall holidays

I think red pears are just beautiful, don’t you?

fall holidays

A long bread basket, houses two acorn squash, a artichoke and two limes and red pears.

fall holidays

A fall display doesn’t have to be fancy.  I love the simplicity of this long white serving plate with the miniature pumpkins.  A green dish towel provides great color contrast.

fall holidays

I like this arrangement too.

fall holidays

When my mother-in-law was preparing to move from her house to an apartment, she gave me this large white bowl as well as the long white serving plate.  They make the colors of fruit and vegetables really ‘pop’, like the two acorn squash, red onion, artichoke, small gourd and limes, above.

fall holidays

Gather together three pillar candles at differing heights and group fruits and vegetables underneath for a lovely centerpiece.

fall holidays

I used plain glass vases to put miniature pumpkins in.

fall holidays

To create my main fall centerpiece, I grabbed some candles from the mantle over the fireplace to add to the display for a little height.

I placed my heirloom pumpkin onto a cake plate to raise it above the other fruits and vegetables.

I grabbed a few pinecones that I had picked up over the summer during out trip to the mountains.  

fall holidays

I also used a few dried gourds that I had grown in my garden a few years ago.

As you can see, there is no right or wrong way to arrange the produce.  Just place things where you like them – I prefer larger fruits and vegetables toward the back and smaller ones in front.

Some of the produce will last longer then others.  Switch out the apples, oranges, limes and pears every week.

In addition to creating a beautiful centerpiece, using produce for decorating is natural, you can eat much of it and you don’t have to find room to store it when the fall holidays are over – I can’t tell you how many boxes of Christmas decorations I have stored away, so it is nice to not have to worry about storing my fall decorations.

So what do you think?

Will you be inspired to create your own fall display the next time you push your cart through the produce aisle?

What fruit and/or vegetables would you like to use?

Is you home decorated for fall yet? I am still working on getting my house ready for the fall holidays.  

Fall Centerpiece

Normally, I am content to buy a single pumpkin and set it in the middle of my dining room table.  But, after seeing my mother’s beautiful fall centerpiece (above), I decided to try to do something a little more creative…

Fall Centerpiece

So, I decided to challenge myself to see what I could come up with for my own unique fall centerpiece by taking a visit to the produce section of my local supermarket.  I was determined to look beyond the normal fall offerings of pumpkins and Indian corn to see if I could be inspired. 

Fall Centerpiece

Surprisingly, I found quite a few vegetables and fruits that would look nice in a fall centerpiece.  So, armed with my cell phone camera, I started taking photos of some of my favorites…

Fall Centerpiece

Acorn Squash

Now, I don’t like to eat squash at all.  I still remember hiding the cooked squash in my napkin that my grandmother would try to get us to eat.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

BUT, squash looks great when used as a fall decoration.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

In fact, I have even seen Butternut squash decorated as a ‘Jack-O-Lantern’ with a ghost face colored in using black markers.

Artichoke

Artichoke

Okay, artichokes are another vegetable that I don’t like.  But, they look great in arrangements, so I bought one.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates

Finally, I found something that I do like to eat AND decorate with – pomegranates.  I love their deep color, don’t you?

Oranges

Oranges

Limes

Limes

Let’s not forget citrus, which is always beautiful no matter how you use it – whether in a bowl in the center of the table or as part of a larger arrangement.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

I admit that heirloom tomatoes aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when creating a fall centerpiece.  But, their deep and rich colors would accent any centerpiece.  Tomatoes won’t last as long as the other produce I have profiled, so use for a few days and then eat them.

Mangoes

Mangoes

How about mangoes? 

Apples

Apples

Apples are great for decorating the tabletop.  I like to use them at Christmas time as well.

Red Pears

Red Pears

I don’t think I have ever noticed all of the different types of produce that my grocery store had before now.

I did come away with a few things that I will attempt to create a centerpiece out of.  I promise to share it with you later.

In the meantime, I did find myself captivated by the unusual pumpkin offerings at the store…

Fall Centerpiece

Aren’t they beautiful?

I selected one for my centerpiece.  When I got home, I excitedly showed it to my kids, who to my surprise, were not happy about it.  They asked, “Is this the pumpkin we are going to carve?”

I assured them that this pumpkin is for decoration only and will hopefully last until Thanksgiving.

I did promise them a ‘regular’ pumpkin for carving later on.

So, when you head to the supermarket this weekend, take a closer look at the produce aisle and see what you can use to create your own ‘natural’ fall centerpiece.

Is It Fall Yet?

Last week, I hinted at the garden video that I created for the folks at Troybilt as part of my paid partnership with the ‘Saturday 6’.

In the past, I have been in gardening videos, but I had a film crew who did all the filming and editing for the videos for their website.

This time, there was no film crew.  I was asked to create a homemade ‘how-to’ video for Troybilt on a gardening subject that I selected.

I decided to create a video on one of my favorite subjects…

“How to grow vegetables with ornamental plants in containers.”


The video is supposed to be amateurish and not polished.  I can assure you that I fulfilled their requirements.  There is no way that anyone can mistake my video as professionally done.

But, I had fun and I hope you like it.



 

 




Today was a beautiful winter’s day.  The temperature was a little above normal for this time of year. 

We spent time out in the garden today with our granddaughter, Lily.

I spent time harvesting leaf lettuce, radishes, carrots and cauliflower for our dinner salad.

Picking Vegetables

 I used our bounty to make a delicious salad for dinner.

The only thing from the grocery store in our salad was the cucumbers, which aren't in season until summer

The only thing from the grocery store in our salad was the cucumbers, which aren’t in season until summer.

As I was picking the vegetables earlier today, Lily was busy picking something entirely different…

Picking Vegetables or Rocks?

Rocks!

She absolutely loves to pick up rocks.

Thankfully, she doesn’t like to eat them 😉

You won’t believe what I have been working on…

indoor plants

I have been inspired by the book,

Don’t Throw It, Grow It! 68 Windowsill Plants from Kitchen Scraps

So, I decided to grow indoor plants using a radish, garlic, lentils, a sweet potato vine and green bean seeds.

The object isn’t to grow food itself, but to enjoy the pretty plants that these kitchen scraps will grow.

I’d love it if you would follow along on my Birds & Blooms blog “An Unorthodox Winter Gardening Project”.

I promise to keep you updated on how it is doing 🙂

The gifts are wrapped and the house is decorated for Christmas.

I do still have to clean my house and start baking goodies for Christmas Eve dinner.  My mother-in-law is bringing her famous lasagna, so I only have to focus on side dishes and dessert – yum!

I am fairly prepared for the holidays at this point.  Tonight, we are expected to experience our first freeze of the season.  I needed to harvest the remaining green peppers and tomatoes today before they were harmed by the frost.  So, I went out this morning to my vegetable garden to harvest the remaining green bell peppers on my two pepper plants and my tomatoes.

Green Vegetable

Green Vegetable

I had some big peppers left along with some smaller ones…

Green Vegetable

It is amazing how hidden the peppers are under the leaves of the pepper plants.  But, I got them all.

Then I got to work on my tomato plants.  They are over a year old and I decided to start over with new tomato plants this coming season, so I will let them go ahead and freeze.

I did however, pick off the green tomatoes.

When I came inside and poured out my bounty, I was surprised at how many green vegetables I had.

Green Vegetable

I got to work at cutting up my peppers and diced them before putting them into freezer bags.

Green Vegetable

Over the next 8 months, all I have to do is take out  as many diced peppers as I need.

I realize that I probably should have ‘flash frozen’ them by placing the diced peppers on a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen before putting in a freezer bag.  That way, they are separate and come out of the bag easily.

But, I am a bit lazy and don’t like to wash extra dishes so when I need some diced peppers, I simply bang the freezer bag on the counter, which loosens them so I can take out the amount I want.

Now, all I have to do is decide what to do with all those green tomatoes.

I could make a green tomato salsa OR I could let them ripen.

What would you do with green tomatoes?

Grow Vegetables in Pots!

Plant Shopping

Guess who went plant shopping!

Not me….

But, my mom did.

She went to buy her fall vegetables at Baker’s Nursery, which is a hugely popular nursery in Phoenix.

Since I knew was going, she kindly offered to buy the remaining plants on my list.

And as another example of how wonderful she is – she took my two youngest kids (Kai and Gracie) with her and treated them to lunch.

So, what did we get?

Plant Shopping

Dill, Parsley and Thyme, which are herbs that will do well through the winter in my garden.

Green and Purple Leaf Lettuce that I will be growing in pots and in a very unusual place that I will share later.

Lobelia and Alyssum, which are great flowering, low-growing annuals that I will use in a unique container.

Lots of Broccoli, which is my favorite vegetable.

I didn’t get the garlic from Baker’s Nursery.  I usually buy my garlic from my local grocery store and it works just fine.  Although, you can buy different varieties from online nurseries.

The last thing they bought were Petunias, which weren’t on my list.  But, my mother loves to help foster a love for gardening with her grandchildren.

So, she let Kai and Gracie each choose a six-pack of flowering annuals.  They choose Petunias, which they planted just after they got home.

Plant Shopping

Okay, I admit that my son looks less then thrilled.  But to be honest, that is how he looks in most of his pictures now.  He really was happy – he spent a few hours with me helping me to plant everything.

Why is it that young boys get this ‘fake’ smile once they hit 5 years old and then later – it is almost like pulling teeth to get them to smile at all?

I promise to share with you the few different things we did with our ‘goodies’ from Baker’s Nurseryover the next few posts 🙂

Nothing quite says summer like the taste of sweet corn and bbq.  

I have enjoyed growing sweet corn for the past three summers and this year is no different.

Sweet Corn Harvest

Seeing how quickly the corn stalks begin to grow and later the first appearance of corn silk make me start to crave the taste of fresh-roasted corn.

Sweet Corn Harvest

It is easy to grow corn and even easier to cook it.

I learned a new way to cook my corn that has nothing to do with boiling water and shucking it ahead of time. This method also gives your corn a delicious, roasted taste as well.

Here is how to do it:

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take whole ears of corn, with the husks still on and put them directly on your oven rack.

Roasted Corn Recipe

Roasted Corn Recipe

Bake for 30 minutes.

Roasted Corn Recipe

Roasted Corn Recipe

Thirty minutes is all it takes to fully cook your corn.

Remove the corn and carefully pull down the husks.  The corn silk will come off easily.

Roasted Corn Recipe

Roasted Corn Recipe

Use the peeled husks as a handle for eating your corn. Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

It doesn’t get much easier than that, does it? 

 

New Vegetable Garden Finally Finished!