Tag: fall

DIY Succulent Pumpkins

So, there’s this thing called a succulent pumpkin. And it’s pretty darn cute. I’m sure you’ve probably seen one on Pinterest or Instagram. But when one of my customers asked me to come do a workshop on how to create these fall fancies later this month I jumped at the chance. I’ll be teaching more than 50 floral specialists (who are amazing designers — no pressure) how to put these together, so I figured I’d better practice by creating a few samples. Let’s just say it wasn’t the worst way to spend a Thursday afternoon. If you’re looking for a weekend project, I highly recommend it! Here’s how it all went down.

The materials I used were simple and fairly easy to find (especially since I had a sea of succulents to choose from). I was shocked at how quickly they came together and I highly recommend giving this a try for a fun fall project with your friends. Heck, it’s something you could get the kids involved in too if they’re fairly gentle with the plants. The first step? Head to your local farm stand and pick out some pumpkins. I scored these three for a whopping $7.50 at a little place just a few minutes from the office. I was going for small, medium and large here but also wanted to try different shapes and colors. I’m a sucker for a pastel-hued heirloom pumpkin and the donut shape is the perfect perch for succulents. The bright orange of the traditional round pumpkin was a nice base for the blue/green color of the plants. And of course the mini white pumpkin is just too darn cute.

I may just blow your mind with this one, guys. It’s something I didn’t know until I started working at ArizonaEast (like all the other plant knowledge I’ve gained these last three years). Good old Elmer’s Glue is just about the best adhesive you can use for succulent-related projects. It’s non toxic (very kid and pet friendly). It dries clear, and it washes away as you water the plants (which is okay because the plants will be rooted into the moss by then). It doesn’t dry as quickly as hot glue, but as long as you have patience (or some floral wire) that doesn’t really matter. All the tutorials I referenced while tackling this project used hot glue to adhere the plants to the pumpkin and I disagree with that approach. Almost every time I’ve ever used hot glue on succulents they sizzle and dry up which ends up killing them. You could try experimenting with a low temp if you’re dead set, but Elmer’s is a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. 

The next step is the most fun. Pick out your plants! You’ll want to grab one or two echeverias to act as a visual anchor in the front of your design, with lots of leafy, leggy succulents filling in the backdrop.

You’ll need to cut the succulent at it’s base to remove the root system and soil. Don’t worry! You’re not harming the plants! Succulents are resilient and they can last as cuttings for weeks before they dry out. If you glue them to a growing medium (moss in this case) they’ll grow a new set of roots and continue being a happy plant. And what’s even cooler is the root system you left behind will grow another succulent in a few weeks, so don’t throw away those plastic grower pots!

Once your plants are all cut it’s time to start building. The first step is to apply a generous amount of Elmer’s Glue to the top of the pumpkin. Then lay your sheet moss on top of the glue. This will act as the foundation of your succulent arrangement. Use your leafy, leggy succulents as the base, starting in the back, and then build from there. Since Elmer’s Glue stays wet for a while you can rearrange your plants as needed so there’s no pressure to get it perfect the first time. You can do a dry run by layering your plants on top of one another to achieve the look you want before gluing them all into place.

Scroll through the slideshows below to see how I designed all three pumpkins, starting from the largest at the top to the smallest at the bottom. I’m still new to this whole tutorial thing so don’t hesitate to leave me questions in the comments. I’ll be happy to help answer them if I can and I’d love to see photos of your creations. If you happen to post them on Instagram tag me so I can see! 🙂 Happy fall crafting!

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Autumn Dinner Party

You’re cordially (virtually) invited to my autumn dinner party…

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I hosted a small dinner party for six a few weeks ago to toast the season and informally celebrate my BFF Laura’s birthday. The table setting was one of my best so I decided it was too good not to share.

You probably won’t be surprised to see succulents gracing the table. I used some purple and cream echeveria cuttings paired with seeded eucalyptus and leafy foliage to create a natural centerpiece.

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And some smaller cream succulent rosettes graced the napkins.

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I spent an embarrassing amount of time cutting out some leaf place cards by hand.

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With only four guests (six including my husband and I) place cards weren’t necessary but they added a touch of whimsy to the table. I’ve read that giving your guests a reserved spot at the table eases the worry of where to sit and I think there’s something to be said for that.

We planned to have a fire outside after dinner so I used candles and ornamental kale to give the back yard a more festive fall feel.

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You can easily recreate the rustic candle holders with two terracotta pots, two cylindrical glass vases and some green preserved moss. I’ve had them on my table for the past few weeks through all sorts of weather and they still look great.

I even spruced up the powder room with two stems of succulent rosettes and some extra seeded eucalyptus in a clear vase. Small touches like this are easy and they help make your home feel extra special for your guests.

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On to the important part –the food! I served the meal in four courses to be a little fancy shmancy.

We had acorn squash soup.

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I didn’t use a recipe to make this and just sort of flew by the seat of my pants. I roasted the squash cut side down in a 400 degree oven (smothered in olive oil, sea salt and cinnamon) for an hour until it got nice and soft. I sautéed some garlic in a large Dutch oven and scooped the squash into after it had a chance to cool. Then I added some chicken broth, stirred and let it summer for about 30 minutes. After adding some salt, pepper and a little cream I puréed it with an immersion blender and it was ready to serve! For an added touch I topped it with a few springs of fried sage and roasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!

The second course was a delicious fall salad made with spring mix topped with dried cherries, pomegranate seeds, Gorgonzola, red onion and pumpkin seeds dressed with a lite Italian vinaigrette.

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Next was the main course — prosciutto sautéed Brussels sprouts and stuffed chicken breasts. I got both of these recipes from Skinnytaste. You can find them here and here.

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And to top it all off I made gingerbread tiramisu for dessert served with espresso. I used my friend Laura’s recipe because it’s AMAZING and the flavors scream fall (hello pumpkin pie spice and gingersnaps). You can get it here.

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I opted to serve the tiramisu in individual vintage punch glasses for an extra special touch. They took a little more prep before the party but were super easy to grab out of the fridge and go when it was time for dessert. Laura’s recipe made 10 of these little guys so I had some left over. I wasn’t mad about it.

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It was a very special night and we all decided we should have formal, fancy dinners more often. Maybe I’ll host another for the holidays? Or to combat the winter blues in January? Who knows, but I hope it’s soon!

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Just remember the most important thing is to make your guests feel welcome and relaxed so don’t try anything outside of your comfort zone for a dinner party setting. Rely on your favorite recipes and think of a way to elevate them — like serving dessert in punch cups instead of bowls. Little touches go a long way when you’re entertaining. Now go call your friends and invite them to dinner! 🙂