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Hello, trick-or-treaters! Tonight is the night for all things spooky and if you are the hostess this Halloween, or if you are celebrating solo, this is the drink for you. All you need is aged rum (1.5 oz), fresh lemon juice (0.75 oz), simple syrup (0.75), red wine (0.75), and one stick of cinnamon.

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fourSo what makes this cocktail so creepy? Red Rum spelled backwards is “Murder” and it doesn’t get more creepy than that. Talk about trick or treat!

What are your favorite tricks and treats for Halloween?

 

While there are several signs that mark this beautiful season we are in, nothing says ‘autumn has arrived’ quite like a porch full of pumpkins. However, carving pumpkins can be a pain, and not everyone is a master with a carving knife. So, what to do? Well, being the garden expert that I am, naturally, my “no-carve” solution involves plants. While this DIY pumpkin planter is not completely carve-free, it is a whole lot easier to achieve and, in my humble opinion, a lot easier on the eyes as well. With four simple materials and in four simple steps you will have the perfect, pumpkin planter for your porch.

materials-diy-pumpkinFirst, cut around the stem of your pumpkin, just like you normally would, making a hole large enough for your plant to fit into. Then, if you want, spray paint your pumpkin a fun, fall color. I chose copper for mine. After the paint has dried, choose your favorite, fall quote and use a paint pen to write it out onto your pumpkin. (Tip: If you know someone who is gifted at calligraphy, enlist their help!)quote pumpkinThen, simply plant your flowers just like you would in a normal planter.plant pumpkinEasy, right? And now your porch is the perfect picture of fall.pumpkin porch“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

-George Eliot

Even though the first official day of autumn was last week, October 1st is when it really starts to feel like fall. Pumpkins greet you at the grocery store entrance as the crisp air ushers you in; iced coffee is becoming a thing of the past as Pumpkin Spice Lattes start flying from the counters at Starbucks; the bright green shades of leaves fade away as reds and oranges and yellows start to fill the trees and then start to fall. October is simply stunning, a second spring indeed!

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What are you most looking forward to this fall?

Thanksgiving is only a few days away so for today’s table I could not help but be inspired by the upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving Day is like the ultimate Sunday dinner even though it’s on a Thursday. The entire day is dedicated to spending time with family and friends, around the dinner table, with an outrageous amount food, and at my house, a festive tablescape is also a must.

Now, just because there is an abundance of food on this day it doesn’t mean that your decorations have to also be over the top. A simple display of glassware and bitter sweet is all you need to set your table, and the tone, for this special time with family and friends. For added fun, we placed pumpkins around the base of our display and just like that—your Thanksgiving tablescape is complete!

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Happy Early Thanksgiving! Eat lots of turkey and give lots of hugs!

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile”
-William Cullen Bryant

Fall is most definitely a magical season, with a unique allure all of it’s own. It’s as if there are all of these treasures, hidden throughout the year, that suddenly come to life in the fall. The way in which the warm sun and cool breeze work together in perfect harmony; the need to bundle up in over-sized sweaters, tall boots, and even taller socks; the sudden urge to build fires, make s’mores, and drink endless amounts of hot cocoa and apple cider—this is what fall is made of.

When one thinks of fall, the colors orange, red, yellow, and brown are usually close behind. This is a natural connection to make considering how these colors work so beautifully together in the trees above and on the ground below. This fall, however, I find myself inspired by a completely different color palette. Soft peach, mustard yellow, sage green, and copper are a mesmerizing quartet of colors that have me singing a brand new love song for this season. These colors look absolutely stunning together, inside the garden and out.

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  1. To Dress: This fabulous look, found at J. Crew, has fall fashion written all over it! Although this color palette is more common in the spring, I find the mix of soft neutrals with a bright, pop of color a refreshing look during this cooler season.
  2. To Display: This gorgeous photograph, taken by the talented Haley Sheffield, showcases a breathtaking bouquet by Juli Vaughn Designs. Again, the softness of these flowers are not typically found in the fall, however, I could not help but find inspiration in the overall beauty of this display.
  3. To Dine: I am absolutely smitten with these vintage, copper pots found at One Kings Lane. This amazing display of pots create an irresistible shine that will add interest to any classic, fall decor and will also maintain its appeal throughout the year.
  4. To Desire: If you find this color scheme as stunning as we do, here are some darling items to add to your fall wish list: A Rifle Paper Co. Peach Floral iPhone Case and this Leather Fossil Watch in Sage.
  5. To Decorate: A plate too pretty to eat off of! The exquisite artistry displayed on this plate captures the inspiration for my fall color scheme perfectly. You can find this lovely Watercolor Petals Dinner Plate over at Anthropolgie.

Sunday, in a biblical sense, is meant to be a day of rest. For some, Sunday means waking up early for church followed by a relaxing afternoon, enjoying a delicious meal with family and friends. For others, Sunday means sleeping-in one last time before Monday morning sounds its inevitable alarm. Some people have to work on Sundays and other people view Sunday as nothing more than another day of the week. However, for me, Sundays are a significant day—the beginning of one week and the end of another. In my opinion, Sundays should most definitely be spent relaxing but also spent reflecting on all of the accomplishments from the week before and the goals and aspirations for the week ahead. It’s important to take inventory of your life, to celebrate the good and to improve upon the bad.

I also enjoy having a big, Sunday dinner with family and friends. Sundays are the perfect excuse to get together with loved ones, celebrating each other’s lives. For me, this means finding new ways to decorate my table each week. I know what you’re thinking—There is no way I am going to spend time and money on a different tablescape every single week! While I thoroughly enjoy the time spent designing centerpieces and arranging tablescapes, I understand that not everyone shares this passion. My goal is to show you a variety of simple, cost-effective ways to create tablescapes for those rare, special occasions or, if you’re feeling ambitious, for your very own Sunday’s table.

Sometimes, a simple centerpiece makes all the difference and this Sunday’s Table is about as simple as it gets. Find a container, something you already have lying around the house, and then fill it with heirloom pumpkins and tomatoes from your garden. Don’t let words like “decorate” or “design” fool you; sometimes it’s just that easy! Now you have a simply stunning centerpiece for any and every occasion this fall.

The month of November is all about giving thanks and I most definitely have a lot to be thankful for. Today I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to be a guest blogger on Interior Canvas. Anna Kristen and Cameron, the remarkable ladies behind this blog, are fellow design enthusiasts. Their love for interior design is simply contagious!

They enlisted my help and asked that I show them how to create the perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece. I was beyond flattered and more than happy to show them a few of my tricks. Arranging this centerpiece definitely put me in the Thanksgiving spirit and I couldn’t be more excited to share it and my gratitude with all of you.

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To see how I put together this fun, fall-inspired centerpiece, check out the full post here and be sure to follow Anna Kristen and Cameron’s blog for even more tips on how to decorate your very own interior canvas.

In Georgia, we just experienced our first frost for the season. Like many gardeners, I am preparing my garden for spring and looking for ways to use the produce that I have still growing and green tomatoes are in abundance. Yes, there is always the traditional fried green tomato recipes, but I wondered what else could be done with these beautiful fruit. My mind instantly went to interior decorating ideas and came up with this beautiful display below.

Green tomatoes add a beautiful constant to your orange and white pumpkins.

Green tomatoes add a beautiful contrast to your orange and white pumpkins.

 

Then, of course, my mind goes to something sweet I could make with them and I found the perfect solution – Green Tomato Pie – filled with the fragrant spices of the fall.

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Green Tomato Pie – Quick, Simply and Easy

 

Here is what you will need for this recipe:

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca

1 lemon, zested

2 lbs. green tomatoes, 1/4 inch-thick slices

1/2 c. golden raisins

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 tbsp. butter

2 premade refrigerated pie crusts, Pillsbury or your favorite brand

Pick 2 lbs. of green tomatoes from your garden. Even if the plants aren’t looking the best – the fruit is still worth saving.

Perfectly edible!

Perfectly edible!

 

Wash tomatoes and slice them to be 1/4 inch-thick. There is just something so elegant and beautiful about a green tomato – don’t you think?

Slice tomatoes to 1/4 inch-thickness

Slice tomatoes to 1/4 inch-thickness

 

Now prepare your sugar and spice mixture to dredge your tomatoes in. Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, tapioca and lemon zest into a bowl. Using freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg brings this pie to a whole another dimension in taste. This can easily be done by using a microplane as shown in the images below.

Freshly ground nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest at a HUGE pop of favor.

Freshly ground nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest at a HUGE pop of favor.

 

Now it’s time to get your pie crust ready! You shouldn’t need to grease your pie dish because of the butter in the dough, but putting some non-stick spray on won’t hurt. For this time-starved girl, premade is the way to go, but if you want to make your own dough – go for it! The recipe link is at the bottom of this post!

Pre-made pie crust is this busy girl's short cut.

Pre-made pie crust is this busy girl’s short cut.

 

Next dredge your tomato slices in your spice mixture and lay in the crust like below.

Drench tomatoes in spice mixture and place in crust.

Dredge tomatoes in spice mixture and place in crust.

 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. After all tomatoes are placed in the crust top with 1/2 c. golden raisins and 4 tbsp. of butter cut into slices.

Feel free to substitute regular raisins, dried cranberries or cherries here as well.

Feel free to substitute regular raisins, dried cranberries or cherries here as well.

 

Then top with the remaining crust.

I can taste it already!

I can taste it already!

 

Pierce top of pie with fork in several places for air to escape. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees after placing pie in. Bake for 30 minutes. Check periodically – if edges of crust are starting to get over done. Place a tinfoil collar around the edges. After 30 minutes of baking, brush crust with heavy cream (or an egg wash) and sprinkle with course sugar. Bake for another 30 minutes. It is also a good idea to place a tinfoil-wrapped cookie pan below the pie to catch any juices that leak out or having an oven liner is ideal and makes for easy cleanup.

To me, this pie tasted just like an apple pie and full of fall favors. I hope you will give it a try!

Enjoy!!

Enjoy!!

 

Original recipe from Food Network

I love this time of year! The leaves turning, the smell of fall in the air and one of my all-time favorite ingredients comes into season – PUMPKIN. We had a beautiful pack of pumpkins growing until a furry rodent (i.e. squirrel) got into the patch. Oh well! That is a part of gardening – isn’t that right?!?

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This year, I will have to make due with some store bought pumpkins. When shopping for pumpkins (or planting them), you want to select varieties that are specifically bred for cooking. Smaller varieties have a denser flesh with a smooth texture and higher sugar content. Traditional varieties that are commonly found at grocery stores include ‘Small Sugar’ and ‘New England Pie’. There are several newer varieties that are great for cooking, but may be harder to find at the grocery store, so growing them would be a better option, they include ‘Baby Pam’, ‘Autumn Gold’ and ‘Ghost Rider’. I selected ‘Small Sugar’ as that is what was available to me. Also when picking your pumpkins make sure there are no holes, cracks or soft spots – this is a sign the pumpkins are not fresh.

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Small Sugar Pumpkins

 

Now that we have selected our pumpkins, making puree is the simple part, but it takes some time. Here is the process for creating homemade pumpkin puree. I know that it takes extra time, but you will not be sorry. You can really tell the difference. The excellent thing about it is that it can be frozen and used in the future. Also pumpkin is perfect for baby food as it’s an excellent source of fiber, beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C.

Let’s get into the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting!! These are so good – I swear I was having a foodgasm while eating one. If you love pumpkin and cream cheese frosting – you will absolutely love this recipe.

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – makes 1.5 dozen

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c. homemade pumpkin puree or canned (do not use pumpkin pie filling)

1 egg

1/2 tsp. of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1 c. of all-purpose flour

1/2 c. of cake flour (can use all-purpose if not available)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1/2 tbsp. ground ginger

1/4 tbsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. all spice

1/2 tsp. ground clove

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First cream softened butter in mixer using the paddle attachment. Then add brown sugar and blend until combined. Once incorporated, add all remaining wet ingredients (pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla). I use vanilla bean paste as I find it more flavorful than extract. Mix until well combined.

Wet ingredients all mixed together

Wet ingredients all mixed together

 

In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. I prefer to put the them through a sifter to remove all the lumps, but it also does a sufficient job of blending them together. Using freshly ground spices make the recipe more flavorful. However, I only used freshly ground nutmeg.

Run all dry ingredients through a sifter to remove lumps and to blend ingredients

Run all dry ingredients through a sifter to remove lumps and to blend ingredients

 

Once combined, add your dry ingredients to your mixer with the wet ingredients. Slowly mix your them together – so that flour doesn’t go all over the kitchen. Been there – done that! Do not over mix – just make sure it is well blended.

Slowly incorporate wet and dry ingredients together

Slowly incorporate wet and dry ingredients together

 

Now there are two methods – either you can use a small scoop and place on a greased cookie sheet to make round whoopie pies or you can spread the dough to a nice layer on parchment paper or a jelly roll plan (or any pan that will allow you to form a thin layer). I choose to do this because I wanted to have my whoopie pies in the shape of pumpkins.

Spread dough thinly on parchment paper or put into a jelly roll pan

Spread dough thinly on parchment paper or put into a jelly roll pan

 

Place into preheated 350 oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Use a toothpick to check doneness. If not wet when removed, take out of oven and set to cool. Then cut into pumpkin shapes. Let pies cool before putting on cream cheese frosting.

Use cookie cutters to create whatever shape you desire

Use cookie cutters to create whatever shape you desire

 

Cream Cheese Frosting –

Only 4 ingredients for cream cheese frosting

Only 4 ingredients for cream cheese frosting

 

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

8 oz. low-fat cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1 1/4 c. powder sugar

Put all ingredients in a mixer and blend until thoroughly combined. I like to set my mixer on high so that the frosting has a lighter consistency, but this is up to your personal preference.

Whip ingredients til light and fluffy

Whip ingredients til light and fluffy

 

Try not to eat all the frosting before the whoopie pies have cooled.

Finished and delicious cream cheese frosting

Finished and delicious cream cheese frosting

 

Once pies have cooled. Use a pumpkin cookie cutter to get this holiday shape. Spread cream cheese frosting on one half to your desired thickness and top with another pumpkin whoopie pie. Serve!

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These make the perfect additional to any party taking place in the autumn season. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!

Carmen

Recipes modified from Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and Cream Cheese Frosting

During this season of the year, when the temperature begins to drop and things start to show down a bit, I am able to reflect on the year and all the friends and family that I am so blessed to have in my life. We are so thankful to have so many wonderful individuals in our life who are always willing to offer a helping hand. In celebration of cooler days ahead, I love to host small get-togethers to thank those that have blessed me with being a part of my life. When preparing for parties, I love to search Pinterest for ideas and DIY projects that are quick, but will add that personalized touch to my fall festivities. Here are some ideas that I have decided to incorporate for my next bash.

The entry way to your home is extremely important to decorate when having a party. When guests arrive, they will be totally wowed by your curb appeal and know they are headed to a classy party to celebrate the arrival of fall. Here is a beautiful example of a gorgeous front door and what a couple pumpkins and potted mums can do to bring your front entrance from dab to fab in seconds.

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Image Credit: Pinterest

I love when fall rolls around because pumpkins are as far as the eye can see coming in colors from your classic orange to ghostly white and gothic gray. Pumpkins can be used for an array of serving trays from using them as an ice chest for drinks, a punch bowl, a chip bowl and even a vase for flower arrangements.

Pumpkin vessel

Image Credit: Martha Stewart

Small pumpkins and gourds serve as wonderful elements to include in tablescapes as candlestick holders, fillers in hurricanes and a range of other clever ideas. The centerpiece on your dining room table can be as fancy or simple as you like it depending on the theme of your party.

Pumpkin centerpieces

Image Credit: Lauren Liess

For a simple centerpiece, try filling a beautiful antique crystal bowl with apples and let it be the star of the table. Or use apples as the seating cards for the party and simply lay them above the forks in the place setting.

Image Credit:

Image Credit: Pinterest

For dessert have something as simple and fun as these chocolate acorns!

The recipe is really easy:

1 pkg. of plain Hershey Kisses

1 pkg. of Nabisco Nutter Butter Bite Size

¼ cup of miniature Chocolate Chips

Gently twist the Nutter Butter cookie to expose the filling. Take the flat end of a butter knife and scrape off the filling to smooth on both halves. Once done, press a Hershey kiss to stick. Place your miniature chocolate chips in the microwave for a couple seconds so the bottoms get soft, but aren’t totally melted. This will be your stem. Press the chip to the top of the Nutter Butter cookie! Presto! You have an extremely cute dessert or fun snack to greet guests at the door with when they arrive with a nice, warm glass of apple cider.

To a fall full of festivities!

Cheers,

Carmen

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Email: carmen@carmenjohnstongardens.com

Phone: 762-822-7696