Studded Pumpkin Towers

I like to make nailhead pumpkins because when they’re finished and I walk by,  I can greet them: “Hello, stud.”

This year, I had a request for more studded squash from a reader and came up with these towers — a fun and fast project.

You need pumpkins and nailheads. I like to use faux pumpkins for this because nailheads are expensive, and this way, your time and investment can live a long, happy life. In Arizona, you can find piles of nailheads at Fabric Depot on Cave Creek and Bell Road in Phoenix, one of my secret sources for all things fabric, upholstery and decor. This site also has a good selection. Also try Mesa Sales or Tempe Sales.

They even make rhinestoned nailheads these days.

Next, cut the stems off your faux pumpkins, and stack them up, using hot glue to secure. (In my family, we call this Hot Fear, because that what baby Rome used to call it, and when the stuff gets on you, there is cause for fear indeed. Ow.)

Start adding nailheads. I like to mix and match sizes and finishes. They go in really easily. This whole project took me 20 minutes.

Mine have a permanent home outside my front door — where they can greet guests and I don’t have to worry about them wilting in the heat.

P.S. Remember my other nailhead pumpkin, the original? See it and a pile of other nailhead pumpkin ideas here. (Monograms! Addresses!)



By |2012-10-25T05:21:58-07:00October 25th, 2012|DIY + Projects|3 Comments

Treats for a Friday in October (and pumpkin macarons)

When people see me taking photos of  cookies in grocery stores, I often wonder what they think. And then I think of how excited I am to show you the cookies and I proceed, full tilt. So here’s to October, to Fridays, to looking like an idiot in grocery stores, and orange-colored skies:

1. There are now pumpkin macarons in the freezer section of Trader Joe’s, where my friend Ginger tells me the pumpkin ice cream is also worthy of our obsessive-compulsive devotion. I see a pumpkin dessert party in my future, using taste-testing for Thanksgiving as an excuse. That’s important work, you know.

2. Oh yes, and this. This must be tested as well — Pumpkin Mousse Cake, also from Trader Joe’s.

3. Crate & Barrel’s pumpkin tureen is killing me. Imagine coming to someone’s house for dinner and seeing this on the stove. Who cares what soup is inside? (Of course, I think my favorite cheddar corn chowder would be a deserving occupant.)

4. Gummy candy corn — this exists? I found it at La Grande Orange Grocery here in Phoenix, disallowed myself from buying, and have been thinking about it since. It’s also in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, or online at, and my spies tell me you can also find gummy candy corn in those big candy shops in malls. I love those candy shops. #issues.

5. Perfect iced pumpkin cookies spotted at AJ’s Fine Foods in Phoenix. Buy your man the football cookie.

6. I’m getting very serious about that pumpkin dessert party. Do you think I could just order pizza and focus entirely on the treats? I want one of these at every place setting: adorable pumpkin truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate. I found them at AJ’s and cooed to them in high-pitched baby talk. They’re also online here.

7. Party favors: Mini cans of hot chocolate from Crate & Barrel in my signature stripes. $3 each.

8. Lastly, do you know the best place to hang out in Scottsdale on a Thursday or Friday fall night? JAM, where Thursdays now mean a farmers market from 4 to 8 p.m. (the “Miller Market,” if you’re fancy). And today is Food Truck Friday, just like every Friday. Think Short Leash Hotdogs, among others, and local musicians singing on the porch, 6 to 8 p.m.

Don’t miss the new local artisan creations inside the JAM shop, especially the Urban Table. JAM is a sweet shop/classroom/events place located in a historic Bungalow in Old Town Scottsdale, and owner Shauna Jean loves autumn as much as I do. You’ll want to go.




By |2012-10-19T05:55:40-07:00October 19th, 2012|Style|1 Comment

Color-blocking pumpkins, Kelly Wearstler style

I’ve been saving my favorites for October — there are enchantments and sweaters and leaves all wrapped up in just that very word. Today is October, and I’m just glad. (Glad like Anne of Green Gables – remember her gladness musings?)

And October is for pumpkins, of course. Today projects are inspired by Kelly Wearstler, a favorite designer of mine. Black and gold and grommets all over. Read on, and I’ll show you how I made them.

The inspiration:

The translation:

To make, tape off an angled design with green frog tape. Push the tape down between the ridges.

Cover the area that you’d like to remain black with plastic — dry-cleaning bags, shopping bags, even trash or grocery bags will work.

Then, spray paint. Rustoleum makes the very best brass and chrome finishes — that’s important.

Remove the tape after about 30-45 minutes. You will then have this:

I tried the same technique with glitter. Tape off the pumpkin, brush on some glue (I use Elmer’s), add glitter (Martha Stewart), feel pleased.

Black glitter on black pumpkins looks crazy cool in real life. Just the kind of glamorous mystery I love.

Next, I tried the same technique with silver leaf — just use one of those silver or gold leaf kits from Michaels. It was easy and fun.

To make the grommet pumpkin below, use a carve-ready faux pumpkin or (ahem), a real one that you’ve hollowed out. I drilled holes and stuck the grommets in. That’s all. My grommets are from Ace Hardware.

How are you celebrating October? Last night Tyson and I watched movies and went for a little walk to look up at the full harvest moon. Tonight, I’m thinking soup and joy.

By |2012-10-01T08:10:01-07:00October 1st, 2012|DIY + Projects|5 Comments

Recipe: Pumpkin Soup with Curry and Coconut

The mythical white pumpkin party that previously existed only in my mind took place this weekend, in the form of a casual little brunch. It was our first party in the new place. I’m excited to show you the photos this week.

First, the pumpkin soup that I served to my guests in shot glasses. (And am now enjoying for dressed-up weeknight dinners with Ty.)

Pretty, isn’t it? (The mini tureen is from West Elm, and everything else I’ve had for awhile.) Delicious, too. My friend Billy said I should enter it in contests. I told Billy he can come to all of my parties from now on.

It would make a fabulous first course at Thanksgiving dinner.

I started with this recipe, but messed around with it so much that I’ve typed in my version below.

Pumpkin Soup with Curry and Coconut

1 T butter

1 T olive oil

1  yellow onion, chopped

1 shallot, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp salt

ground pepper to taste

3 cups chicken broth

1 15 ounce can pumpkin

1 13 ounce can light coconut milk

for garnish: half and half, chopped chives, pomegranate seeds

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter together. Saute onions and shallots until almost translucent. Add garlic, curry, salt and pepper and cook for one minute. Add the broth and pumpkin, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk. Puree with an immersion blender. Just before serving, garnish with half and half, chopped chives, and pomegranate seeds.

By |2012-01-11T12:27:57-07:00January 11th, 2012|Recipes|1 Comment

Pumpkin Brunch

Scenes from my pumpkin brunch:

(My new mercury glass bell jar from FOUND — a beloved birthday gift from Christina.)

Pumpkin mini muffins with maple cream cheese icing — my most evil creation of the year.

Pumpkin teapots (above) and pumpkins on the orchids (below):

Pink calla lilies with pumpkin undertones:

Happy friends:

A buffet piled high with pumpkin things: soup and muffins and yogurt-granola parfaits topped with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Utensils lined up on a tray:

Pumpkins lined up on my table:

An autumnal salad with Gruyere, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds:

I cheated and used paper napkins, and you know what? The world is still turning.

Lynne Bonnell’s burlap pumpkins came, too:

Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary:

Mimosas like mad:

Piles of pumpkins, everywhere I could fit them:


Homemade quiche — my first, and I’m converted (recipe here):

Treats galore:

And another one for the road:

(Pumpkin muffin recipe coming tomorrow, and I’m not sure whether to apologize or curtsy. They’re diabolical.)

By |2012-01-11T12:26:56-07:00January 11th, 2012|Parties|0 Comments

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving

Tyson has hijacked the Thanksgiving menu. He wants oysters, homemade appetizers (sausages en croute!) and homemade chestnut soup, Turkey confit, stuffing-potatoes-gravy, of course, but also sweet potato pie with a gingersnap crust, to go with homemade nutmeg ice cream.

Also: he thinks he’s going to make it all himself. His mother and I are entertained. We are remembering a similar menu at Christmas dinner last year that he also “made all by himself.”

(I never should have let him onto

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — a day when Ty’s mom and I will be following him around all the grocery stores in Colorado, trying to talk him out of things —  I will offer you this, and wish to be so lucky.

Here is the easiest and best appetizer to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner: go to Trader Joe’s. Buy my new favorite cheese.

Buy these newly discovered wonderful Raisin-Rosemary crackers.

Make them look pretty on plates.

Revel in the compliments.

The End.

(Wishing you the happiest Thanksgiving — in or out of the kitchen — wherever you are happy to be.)

(Please pray for me that they are out of chestnuts in Colorado.)

By |2011-11-23T12:24:30-07:00November 23rd, 2011|Style|0 Comments

White “thanks” pumpkin centerpiece

I dreamed this one up for a photo shoot years ago, and it’s still my favorite Thanksgiving centerpiece: print out letters from your computer, cut them out,  and use Elmer’s glue to paste them onto your pumpkins.

Photo by Wes Johnson

By |2011-11-18T03:36:32-07:00November 18th, 2011|Parties|0 Comments

Tell me about it, Stud.

Sunday night + studs + spray paint + preserved stem = a pumpkin named Axl Rose.

Pretty studly, don’t you think? My mom spotted the idea somewhere and whispered it into my ear. My friend Lynne, the velvet pumpkingoddess, lent me this awesome preserved stem, straight from the patch.

I think this might be my highest achievement in pumpkin-torture yet.

How to make your own:

Purchase a faux pumpkin. You’re not going to all this trouble to throw it away.

Spray paint your pumpkin. I used the matte black paint that adheres to plastic.

When it’s dry, stud your squash. Start at the top and continue to the bottom of each section. I used a bag of 100 nailheads from Fabric Depot in Phoenix, $15. It took about 15 minutes.

Now if you want a really awesome stem like mine, you’ll need to do this next year, but plan now. First,  find a patch and pick a pumpkin, leaving the stem extra long. After your pumpkin has had its day as a jack o lantern, remove the stem and let it dry.

To attach it to the faux studded pumpkin, poke a hole in the bottom of the stem with an awl. Cut off the fake stem. A kitchenknife will be fine. The stems are made of foam. Insert a wooden skewer into the preserved stem. (Yes, like you use on the grill.) Stick the skewer into your studded pumpkin.

Can you tell my pumpkin isn’t real? Didn’t think so.

P.S. It’s Pumpkin Week over at Sweet Paul. Today: something for all you logo-vores.

By |2011-10-02T03:08:16-07:00October 2nd, 2011|DIY + Projects|2 Comments

Missoni Pumpkin D-I-Y

And now, the results of my annual pumpkintorture session:

Missoni! Yes, Missoni-inspired pumpkins. I decided I needed pumpkins to match my plates. (For the “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Party” that I still need to plan.)

Aren’t they fun? They’re also simple and quick. I did them in about an hour, not including dry time. It’s just paper and glue. (You could also paint, which might look better, but that sounds hard.) Republic designer Audrey Tate even made zigzag templates for you to download. Pumpkin One, Pumpkin Two, and COLOR! (Not pictured.)

Here’s how:

Get a pumpkin, real or fake. If you’re going to all this trouble, it’s nice to keep your pumpkin around for a few years. I’ll show you how to make the faux look real. (My missonis above? Fake. Yep! And some of the pumpkins next to them are real. Tough to tell, isn’t it?)

PUMPKIN ONE: This pumpkin was $10 at Target. I like that the ribs and surface are uneven, like a real pumpkin.

Next, take the pumpkin outside, and paint it. The perfect white pumpkin paint is Krylon Fusion in Dover White. This takes minutes, since Fall in Arizona means HOT weather and quick-drying paint.

This is optional, but I think this paint looks more real than the finishes that come on the faux pumpkins.If your faux pumpkin is orange, I’d paint that, too — in a satin finish, whatever color you want.

If you have a real pumpkin stem on hand — which is the trick to making these look authentic — then pry off the plastic stem before painting. If you don’t have one, tape off the plastic stem.

Next, download, print and cut your zig zags. Use regular-weight paper. You’ll probably need three or four print-outs to go around the pumpkin.

I cut the zigzags above into two portions for my Target pumpkin: one zig zag larger than the other. Next, coat the back of the cutout with Mod Podge in Matte. Stick it on your pumpkin, and top with another coat of Mod Podge. Let dry. Continue around the pumpkin until it’s finished.

TIPS: Some inks will get smeared by the Mod Podge, and you’ll have grey glue smudges on your white pumpkin. Just wipe them off while still wet with a damp paper towel.

TO MAKE IT LOOK REAL: (Remember, you have pried off the fake stem.) I learned this trick from Lynne Bonnell, the velvet pumpkin queen. Buy pumpkins with good stems, and save the stems after Halloween. Pry or cut them off your pumpkins, and let them sit out in a ventilated area, like your garage, and dry until next year. When dry, scrape dried squash off the bottom of the stem, and attach to a faux pumpkin with Quick Grip adhesive.

If you want a stem right now, glue won’t hold it, but there is a way:  buy a pie pumpkin, hack off the stem, cut all the squash off the bottom, and use an awl to poke a hole in the bottom of the stem about two inches deep.

To attach, stick one end of a toothpick into the top of your faux pumpkin, and attach the stem to the other end. Handle with care. Next year, glue it on.

PUMPKIN TWO: It was difficult to get the spacing even between my zigzag rows, so for the second pumpkin, I used Audrey Tate’s template and printed it on cream-colored paper so that the in-between spacing was already in place. If your pumpkin is orange, print the template on orange paper.

And remember that you can make your zigzags go any direction you want.


Templates: Pumpkin One, Pumpkin Two, and color (not pictured — and in my defense, I tried, but my printer was out of color ink — something a black and white acolyte tends not to notice).


By |2011-10-01T03:03:20-07:00October 1st, 2011|DIY + Projects|1 Comment

Party week! Inspiration from my archives

Yesterday someone asked me how I’m setting my table for Thanksgiving. It might be that I’m actually not, and we’re eating on paper plates, because I’ve set a thousand Thanksgiving tables in my life and I’m only 34. However, I usually cave in at the end.

From my styling archives: this is still my favorite (also currently on Stephanie Nielson’s blog header, funnily enough). To make: cut letters out of typing paper and glue them, Elmer’s style, to your squash.

I do love a creative placecard. I styled this succelent in a monogrammed teacup a few years ago. Directions here.

This is called pincushion protea, found often at Trader Joe’s.

Grapevine wreath from Michaels: totally brilliant charger.

My family Thanksgiving, 2009, styled by my mom. (Wonder where I get my plate problems? Her.)

An Arizona Thanksgiving created for the newspaper, complete with Bougainvillea centerpieces and creeping fig napkin rings:

My friend Paul’s Maple-Bourbon-Apple-Sage-Butter-Bacon Turkey recipe (I’ve heard that this is the about the best ever):

One year, I dressed my pumpkins up with glitter and Rub n’ Buff, and my photo was featured onApartment Therapy:

P.S. There’s a great centerpiece series on Design Sponge this week should you seek more tablesetting temptation. And come back later today for a peek at locally styled lovelies.

By |2010-11-24T12:11:21-07:00November 24th, 2010|DIY + Projects|0 Comments


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