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All Gourded Out for Fall

All Gourded Out for Fall

PumpkinsIn a fit of Fall Fever, yours truly went buck-wild on autumn decorations for everything from the front porch to the kitchen table. What was most interesting about the shopping spree was that most of the colorful ensemble came from the produce department instead of a craft supply shop. Without realizing it, I'd gourded out my house.

Perhaps I went a little overboard. As I took inventory of the rampage, the following loot awaited me: acorn squash, butternut squash, fairytale pumpkins, long-stemmed pumpkins, gourds with stripes of green and ivory, splotches of orange or shades of sunset, wee ones, huge ones (I almost threw my back out!), calabash gourds similar to the ones for yerba maté, and any gourds that resembled the ones that I'd seen on the covers of decorating and culinary magazines.

Determined to beat my neighbors to the punch this year, I quickly arranged my front porch setting, something rustic yet contemporary. Presto! An arrangement of large and stacked small pumpkins of different colors, plus a leaning squash or two on either side of the porch's support beams, and the entryway was charming without being kitschy.

A coworker had also suggested hollowing out a gourd to use as a temporary vase or part of a centerpiece -- a spectacular tip that I'll use with dried flowers, twigs or fresh greenery for an upcoming lunch gathering. In fact, Thanksgiving will be an excellent opportunity to work the gourd theme. Instead of standard name cards, I'll take a marker and write the guests' names on mini pumpkins as part of the place setting. (For those of you who have carving skills, kudos to you, but I'm all thumbs with a blade. A Sharpie is as sharp as things should get around me.)

Naturally, most of the gourds will double as edible delights later, but for now the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar will have to wait patiently in the pantry while my gourd collection visually announces that it is autumn, the weather has finally cooled down, and I am mad-fan-of-the-season-cheerleader-crazy ready. Admittedly, I may be too ready: The people next door wryly said that looking at the harvest on my front porch made them hungry. To which I challenged, "Bring a fork, baby!" -- well, not really, but I wanted to say that.

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