DIY New Jersey Pumpkin

I’m pretty sure I’ve made it clear that I am quite a big fan of fall: the season that calls for cute booties, apple-flavored everything, and plenty of opportunities to get crafty and creative.  While I’ve been going a little apple crazy (baking apple muffins, apple crisp, and making a mean apple cider margarita – we’ll get to that later this week), one of my favorite things about fall is decorating pumpkins.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been going with a white pumpkin theme.  I’ve done the ombre pumpkin thing a few times, and last year I put pouncers to the test by making a polka dotted pumpkin.  As much as I continue to be enticed by the prettiest white pumpkins out there, I decided this year it was time to do something different.  While daydreaming on the couch and recovering from my appendix surgery, I decided that I was going to make a New Jersey themed pumpkin.


This project is super fun and incredibly simple.  To start with, I surveyed my paint collection and settled on metallic red for the base color.  I used a basic acrylic paint for the red coat.  After evaluating several color options, I decided that first, red is pretty seasonal without screaming Halloween, and second, it’s the color of one of my all-time favorite New Jersey things: Rutgers!  The metallic sheen really added to the fun and brightness of this pumpkin decorating process.  I painted indoors this year on the dining room table (while watching my tenth episode of Gilmore Girls), and I simply put down one piece of cardboard, painting from stem to base in even, vertical strokes.  By the time I got to the base of the pumpkin, I just held it upside down by the stem and waited for the paint to dry in between coats.  I love picking a pumpkin that has a nice strong stem for handling – it makes decorating so much easier!

It took two coats, but by the second coat, it was looking a lot less pink and a lot more scarlet.  I decided to add one more touch of whimsy and painted the stem gold.  This paint is just a basic craft paint from Martha Stewart’s acryllic metallic collection in gold.  I did about three coats to make sure the stem was looking nice and shiny.

For the piece de resistance of this pumpkin, I decided to freehand the outline of the state of New Jersey using a pen.  I waited until all of the coats were dry and did a very light sketch using a picture of the Garden State on my phone as inspiration.  After the outline was done, I grabbed a very small paintbrush and used Martha Stewart craft paint in white to fill in the entire outline.  I painted the state outline a little bigger than what I actually traced in an attempt to cover up the pen lines.  I did about three coats of the white, which really contrasted nicely with the red, but I probably wouldn’t use pen moving forward to make the state outline – you can still see traces of it through the white paint, even though I did quite a few coats.

Lastly, I added a little heart on the state of New Jersey where Madison is located, to represent my heart and my home.  I love the way it came out – a red pumpkin looks great on a mostly neutral and white front porch!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween around here. I’d love to hear any pumpkin carving or painting projects you’ve been up to lately!

Curb Appeal: Fall Decorating 101

Before I gush all about my fall decorating plans, I have some exciting news to share: I am now APPENDIX FREE!!!  That’s right: that pesky organ which has been causing me quite a bit of distress over the past few months has finally been removed.  Hooray.  If you’re looking for me post-surgery, I’ll be sitting here on the couch watching Fixer Upper.

Now that fall is officially in full swing (can you believe some nighttime temperatures here in New Jersey have already fallen below freezing?), I thought it was about time to share some of my favorite fall decorating strategies.  I really got into the front porch decorating this  fall, especially because we have our handy dandy plant stand in place.  Earlier this summer, I bought the plant stand for $2 at a garage sale, determined to make the best use of it during fall and winter decorating.  I mean, it has three shelves!  Plenty of space for satisfying my Pinterest crafting cravings.

After a heartbreaking attempt to snag a piece of broken fence wood to decorate for fall (it wouldn’t fit in my trunk), this plant stand was the next best thing.  So, to begin my decorating plan, I began searching the house high and low for anything fall-related.

Here’s what I came up with: multiple lanterns (white, red, AND yellow – I’m quite a lantern collector), some fake fall flowers, a homemade fall wreath from a few years ago, pinecones, a few flowerpots in fall-themed colors, and my K&D door decoration, which fit in with the fall inspiration quite well.  Dan and I also bought a few small pumpkins and gourds from our annual trip to Riamede Farm to brighten things up.  I tried to focus mostly on yellows, oranges, and reds for this color scheme – all of these complement the navy plant stand pretty well.  I have no doubt that you’ll be able to find a few of these items hiding in the back of your closet, and if not, you can find almost all of them at your local neighborhood Michaels or Target for pretty affordable prices.

After evaluating the complete pile of goodies, I decided to start with the top shelf.  I incorporated this cute white lantern (generously donated to my ever-growing lantern collection by my brother) from Urban Outfitters.  I also took some fake flowers I had taking up space in my craft bins, cut the stems short, and stuffed them in the top of the lantern.  This way, I added a nice pop of color without having to spray paint or change the color of the lantern.  I was also quite happy to get those fake flowers out of my closet because they are a cat-eating hazard (why do cats love fake flowers and stems so much?).  I also repurposed our K&D frame which previously hung on our front door, added in a roped lantern from Target a few years ago and filled it with pinecones.  I topped this shelf off with a fun yellow gourd that we picked up at Riamede Farm last week.

On the second shelf, I again repurposed a previously homemade fall wreath, which was simply decorated with the same fake flowers that I stuck in the lantern, a few fake pumpkins, and a bird.  I paired the wreath with a square-shaped lantern from a backyard patio set, since it created a really nice shape contrast with the round wreath and flower pot. I threw in a few additional gourds to add some more texture and interest. I just love gourds – they are so funky!

Last, but certainly not least, I took the yellow lantern that previously sat on our front porch looking lonely (with a very melted electric candle inside of it) and filled it with some fake pinecones from the Christmas Tree Shops.  I’m pretty sure that pinecone decor will last me through the winter months as well, so I love their multi-seasonal appeal.  I feel like this plant stand has given my lantern new life!

Here’s the full picture, one last time.  I really love how the plant stand complements the bench and pillows as well.  It’s taken our porch right from summer into fall with just a few easy accent pieces.  Cheers to fall fabulousness!