Old Bay Brussel Sprouts

Turns out brussels sprouts are my favorite fall / winter vegetable and we end up making them a lot.  At some point I started making them this way, and it’s now the go-to brussels recipe for an easy week night side dish.

Old Bay Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:brussels_old-bay

  • Brussel sprouts
  • ~2T olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Old Bay, to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil, and add your brussels sprouts.  Let them cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat & drain the water (yes, we are blanching).

In a sauce pan, heat about 2T of olive oil over medium heat.  Cut the bottoms off each brussel, then slice in half.  Put the brussels in the pan and add salt, pepper, and Old Bay.

Let them cook for ~15 minutes, then serve!

Edits: I’m totally heavy handed with the Old Bay, not gonna lie.   I like it on there kinda thick, but just season them to your liking!  Also, the longer you cook the sprouts, the crispier they will be.  Sometimes I just cook them for 15 minutes, other times it’s closer to 30 depending on my mood!

Results: Like I mentioned, this is our go-to brussels recipe.  We always have the seasoning on hand, so just buy brussels and make them while the rest of dinner is cooking. Seriously such an easy week night side, that happens to get your greens in too!

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Fall Plants

Since Columbus Day lined up so nicely for our Hurricane Matthew clean up, I took the opportunity to work in the yard after cleaning up the debris.  We continued the yard work the first free weekend we had.

The front bed needed basic pruning and weeding, but nothing too serious there.  I had to cut back a lot of lantana though – it got a little crazy after I planted it!  Hunter pruned the boxwood bushes in the front since they were also getting a little crazy.  After that we laid 12 bales of pine straw in all of the beds.fall-plants-16_09fall-plants-16_07 In both the planter on our front porch and our window box, I decided to plant a combination of dusty miller and purple mums.  Last year I had dusty miller in hanging baskets, and it just looks great next to a jewel tone flower.fall-plants-16_02 fall-plants-16_04Our hanging baskets had been down for some time after the flowers were fried & died in August (oops), so I got new liners, put some potting soil in them and added trailing violas.  I’ve potted those before, and they did great and look nice hanging over the edges.
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fall-plants-16_03I redid the pots we have in the backyard next to the fire pit.  I added some lavender (to be taller & aromatic), red mums, and creeping jenny.  I’ve used creeping Jenny before, and it always does well and adds a pop of bright green.

The back yard also got a lot of pruning and new pine straw, and we finally finished removing the huge branch that was hanging over the garage from the hurricane, hooray!

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A fun surprise was seeing the camilla with buds about to bloom!  I planted that in the spring, and it has been growing, but no blooms yet.  I’ve been checking daily for the first bloom… We also have some more color on the side of the house with all the azaleas blooming in different shades of red and pink.

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After the planting and big morning of yard work, we were both exhausted, but loved seeing the immediate results.  An older neighbor even told us how great our yard always looks – what a compliment!

Clearly I’m starting to have some favorite plants that I have managed to keep alive and incorporate in pots or baskets each year.  Who would’ve thought I’d enjoy gardening so much?  Hopefully all of these lil guys make it through the winter into spring!

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Mrs. Massmann’s Pumpkin Muffins

If I had to name my favorite cook outside of my family that I personally knew, hands down it would be Mrs. Massmann.  My best friend’s mom can cook EVERYTHING, and it’s all from scratch (and ridiculously delicious).  Even today, every time I go by the Massmann’s there is something freshly baked or cooked on the counter, in the fridge or in the process of being made.

Back in college Kirstin sent me a Word doc of her mom’s pumpkin muffin recipe.  Like all loved recipes, the piece of paper is worn and covered in old remnants of ingredients, so now I’m writing it down so I don’t lose it.   If you’re in the pumpkin spirit, this is a keeper!

Mrs. Massmann’s Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:muffin_pumpkin-02

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 C water
  • 2 C pumpkin puree
  • 1 C cooking oil
  • 3 C sugar
  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350 degress.  Mix together the eggs, water, pumpkin and oil.  Add sugar and mix.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.

Fill a greased muffin tin half full and bake for 15-20 minutes for full size muffins, or 8 minutes for mini muffins at 350 degrees.  Top with chocolate chips if you’re feeling crazy.

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No Carve Vinyl Pumpkin

After going through the office after the hurricane, I came across a craft pumpkin I bought and forgot about (this happens way more than I’d like to admit).  I pulled it out and decided to play with the Cricut and make a no carve pumpkin to put on our front porch.

No Carve Vinyl Pumpkin

What you’ll need:

  • Craft pumpkin
  • Black vinyl
  • Cricut
  • Weeder
  • Transfer paper

First things first, create your design in Design Space.  I went with a simple “W” in Argo font and “est. 2016” below it (similar to my coasters).  Make sure to attach the 2 text files together so they’ll be in the right position when you’re ready to cut.

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Put the vinyl on your mat and cut it with the Cricut!  Watching it cut never gets old to me…

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Once it’s cut, use the weeder to weed away the excess around the design.pumpkin_vinyl-02

Next, put some transfer paper on top of the design.  Use the scraper to get any bubbles out and put the transfer paper on tightpumpkin_vinyl-03Peel away the backing (white part), making sure that the design stays on the transfer paper.  Place it where you want on the pumpkin, and run your fingers over the design to get it to adhere to the pumpkin, especially in the grooves.

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Slowly pull back the transfer paper, again making sure that the vinyl stays on the pumpkin.  You’re done – Now put it out in all it’s glory!
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I’m loving it on our front porch next to the Wilds planter that Liz & Blake gave us!  Guess I need to get a real pumpkin and carve it soon…

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Succulent Filled Pumpkin

I was talking to my friend Marianne about pumpkin crafts the other day, and got the idea for a project I wanted to make this year involving succulents.  Taylor put succulents & Spanish moss in a big Le Cruset pot for his Thanksgiving centerpiece last year and that inspired me to do a version with a pumpkin!

Succulent Filled Pumpkin

What you’ll need:

  • Craft pumpkin
  • Wood slice
  • 1/2″ screws (2)
  • 1″ washers (2)
  • Drill
  • Floral craft foam (depending on size of your pumpkin)
  • Fake succulents
  • Spanish moss

This is another example where I decided I wanted to make something that night, so ran to Michael’s for the craft pumpkins & foam, then Hobby Lobby for the fake succulents after work.

Do you have to use fake succulents? Nope! But I am in this rut where I keep killing any indoor plant (hence the paper philodendron), while keeping everything outside alive, so it was in my best interest to use faux plants, and these look pretty darn real!

I found my white craft pumpkins at Michael’s (yay for a sale!) and got the kind with a cut out on one side so I wouldn’t have to do that part myself.
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I wanted the succulents coming out of the top, so the opening faces up.  Learn from my mistake and realize that with the opening facing up, the pumpkin doesn’t sit flat.  First, we’ll resolve that part.

Get a wood slice (can also be found from your local craft shop) and screw the pumpkin into the slice using washers and screws.  I have to give Hunter credit on the idea to do this, and he helped me screw it in – because I think he just wanted to use the drill.

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Now that your pumpkin will sit up straight, put the floral foam inside the pumpkin.  I had 2 blocks of foam for my large pumpkin, and had to cut one block in half so it’d fit.  There are 1.5 blocks on the bottom, and the remaining half block sitting on top like so:
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Now you’re ready to add your succulents.  Put your succulents securely in the pumpkin by making sure you put the stems through the foam.  Arrange them however you like.  I think I ended up using 9 succulents in my big pumpkin.

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Next add some faux Spanish moss around the succulents to cover the foam.

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Viola – Your centerpiece is ready!  Sorry for all the finished pictures, but I was really happy with how it turned out, from every angle.

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I’m not gonna lie, this is totally my favorite pumpkin project to date – probably because I love succulents and it doesn’t scream fall with orange & brown.  It looks perfect as the centerpiece on our dining table, and will most likely stay there through Thanksgiving!  I’m debating making some smaller ones as gifts too…

After I made the pumpkin, I saw that it fits this month’s #SeptemberFauxFlorals challenge for the 12 months of DIY: Win-win.

Update: Since I had a smaller craft pumpkin and extra faux succulents I decided to make a smaller version.  This time I let the opening face outward and the pumpkin sit upright.  Because the front is a little heavier, I used an oyster shell underneath the pumpkin so it’s sit fully upright on our entry table.  Same great look, but slightly different version!

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PS – You can find all my pumpkin projects here!

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