Blog Posts by Sunset Magazine

  • 15 Spooky Plants for Halloween

    Who needs Halloween decorations when nature provides such bizarre and beautiful creations? Display these flowers and plants to add a little haunt to your house this season...if you dare.

    Can grow outside or as a houseplantCan grow outside or as a houseplant
    Feed me, Seymour

    Place a pot of Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) on the table and your guests won't be the only ones enjoying dinner. When the plant's trigger hairs inside are touched, its elegant eyelashes turn into teeth that snap shut--even emitting a slight electrical current as they close.

    To grow: Venus flytraps can grow outside in frost-free climates, or as houseplants in bright light.

    More Halloween decorating ideas

    A moody bouquetA moody bouquet
    Dark and stormy

    A handful of tall 'Hot Chocolate' callas makes for a moody bouquet. Tuck in nearly black aeonium rosettes and Colocasia 'Puckered Up', a new elephant ear, to add more dark texture.

    To grow: After frost has passed, grow callas from rhizomes. Aeoniums need protection from frost. Elephant ears can grow outdoors in mild climates, and as houseplants in all

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  • Top 15 Secret Wine Country Escapes

    Experience wine country without the crowds in these under-the-radar spots for sipping.

    Stellar wineries tucked among sandstone canyonsStellar wineries tucked among sandstone canyons
    Moab, UT

    If you haven't been here since your dude days, you're in for a pleasant, even refined, surprise. Lately Moab has sprouted more mellow pursuits that you don't have to catch air or defy gravity to enjoy. Don't mistake mellow for monotonous, though. We're talking stellar wineries tucked among sandstone canyons, locally sourced eats, and scenic bike trails that won't chew up and spit out beginners. It's the same great outdoor playground, with a new sophisticated side.

    More on visiting Moab

    Perfectly suited for nature loversPerfectly suited for nature lovers
    Boonville / Philo, CA

    This wine region located 90 miles north of Sonoma is perfectly suited for nature lovers, as it's a stone throw from the Mendocino redwoods. It's known for its small-production Pinot Noirs, but its Alsatian varietals--Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Riesling--are worth exploring, too. Sip at Handley, Londer, and Navarro wineries and then soak up the scenery. Come summer, don't miss

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  • 8 Fall Container Gardens

    Bright grasses and colorful leaves bring seasonal splash to your porch or patio.

    Wine punchWine punch
    Instant autumn garden

    Start with the plants, then pick your containers that will extend the color theme.

    Cluster containers of different shapes and sizes in threes or plant a single pot with three kinds of plants, for the best-looking displays.

    More on picking plants for your fall garden

    This theme: Wine punch

    Pops of icy blue in cooling contrast with warm combos of bright pinks and deep purples.

    Deep bronzeDeep bronze
    Falling for cocoa

    The theme: Deep bronze, burgundy, and plum shades along with leaves that turn reddish throughout the season creating an autumn experience right on your porch.

    Orange-striped blades of grassOrange-striped blades of grass
    Harvest gold

    The theme: Orange-striped blades of grass, apricot-tinged leaves with purple undersides, and matching gold containers.

    Soft textures and bright chartreuse Soft textures and bright chartreuse
    Shades of green

    Soft textures and bright chartreuse tones light up bronze-colored 17-inch-wide containers.

    Maximizing fall colors

    A rustic vignetteA rustic vignette
    Lime and chocolate

    Billowy burgundy Agonis, trailing

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  • 13 Easy Pumpkin Arrangements

    Bring on the magic of fall with beautiful pumpkin arrangements (no carving!).

    Try surprising design elementsTry surprising design elements
    Reds and oranges

    Here, red-orange pumpkins mingle with glory lilies, pomegranates, red winter berries, and--most surprisingly--golden and cherry tomatoes.

    White pumpkins really pop against woodWhite pumpkins really pop against wood

    The sculptural quality of white pumpkins really pops against wood paneling. White anemones and an assortment of seedpods, leaves, and acorns in a medley of browns complement them here. Try propping some pumpkins vertically for added height and texture.

    More unusual pumpkin varieties

    A lighthearted twist to the traditional fall paletteA lighthearted twist to the traditional fall palette
    Yellows and golds

    Striped yellow pumpkins lend a lighthearted twist to the traditional fall palette. Combine them with yellow Iceland poppies, kumquats, and grapefruits in a sunlit space; leave citrus leaves and twisted pumpkin stems intact for a just-picked feel.

    It's all about fall color It's all about fall color
    Mixed greens

    Miniature striped green-and-yellow pumpkins join a trio of copper vases and a casual arrangement of red, orange, and yellow flowers. It's all about fall color--without a maple leaf or

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  • 8 Delicious Apple Recipes

    Dive into apple season with apple oven cake, pie, crisp, galette, muffins, applesauce, salads, and more.

    Works as a breakfast dish or dessertWorks as a breakfast dish or dessert
    Apple Oven Cake

    This pancake-like cake is great for after dinner or as a breakfast treat. And it comes together in less than 30 minutes.

    Yield: Serves 6
    Total: 30 Minutes

    3 tablespoons butter
    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 sweet apple such as Fuji, peeled and sliced
    3 large eggs
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 cup milk
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon powdered sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 425°. Melt butter in a 12-in. ovenproof frying pan over high heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, swirling to combine. Add apple and cook until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, in a blender, whirl together eggs, salt, flour, and milk. Pour egg mixture into pan and bake until puffed and brown, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

    Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

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  • Top 10 Spots for Fall Color

    Go on a foliage tour of the West at our favorite places to soak up the season's golds, crimsons, and more.

    Aspens and oaks gild the slopes Aspens and oaks gild the slopes
    San Juan Mountains, CO

    In October, the aspens and oaks of Colorado's San Juan Mountains gild the slopes so brilliantly it's like Project Runway for trees. Choose from two great scenic drives to take it all in: the San Juan Skyway or the Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byway.

    Vivid fall color of the Eastern SierraVivid fall color of the Eastern Sierra
    Bridgeport, CA

    Use the town as a base to explore the vivid fall color of the Eastern Sierra and the wealth of hot springs stretching between it and Mammoth Lakes, 60 miles south. Try this therapeutic formula for a long weekend: Drive, hike, see fall color, and do some soaking on the way to Mammoth Lakes. Don't miss the Travertine Hot Springs, where the waters average 105° and views of the Sawtooths are yours to savor, or Conway summit (south of Bridgeport on U.S. 395) for a sweeping, tree-dotted vista of where the Great Basin meets the High Sierra.

    More great fall hikes

    The air in Flagstaff is crisp as a WinesapThe air in Flagstaff is crisp as a Winesap
    Flagstaff, AZ

    Sunshine, great

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  • Top Plants for Your Fall Garden

    Our picks for the very best bulbs, greens, trees, and more to set out now for a vibrant garden come spring.

    Fall is ideal for getting plants into the groundFall is ideal for getting plants into the ground
    Prime time for planting

    The time is right to get growing! Tempting as it may be to buy plants in spring when they're looking full and luscious, fall is actually ideal for getting most ornamentals and cool-season edibles into the ground. Summer's peak heat is behind, the soil is still warm, and the next few months can bring soaking winter rains. That means immediate and deep root growth for all kinds of plants that reach their prime in spring, if not before. Here are our top picks, including some surprises--plus tips for planting them.

    Replace the lawn with low-water grassReplace the lawn with low-water grass
    Low-water lawns
    Traditional lawns need lots of water to stay lush-looking. But if you're getting serious about slashing your water bill, now's a good time to plant or replace the usual lawn with a low-water grass such as blue grama or a fescue blend such as Eco-Lawn (pictured; In warm-winter areas, start seed in fall;

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  • 15 Smart Small-home Organization Tips

    Keep small spaces uncluttered with our creative storage and organization solutions. Don't let a lack of space get you down--use the small area as a creative inspiration.

    Using under-utilized wall spaceUsing under-utilized wall space
    Frame a doorway

    Bookshelves surrounding the entry from a living room to a dining room make creative use of what might otherwise be under-utilized wall space.

    All about shelving

    Creates a visual separationCreates a visual separation
    Divide and conquer

    This free-standing cabinet creates a visual separation between the entryway and living space. It provides a large amount of closed storage to keep the room uncluttered.

    Much less expensive than built-insMuch less expensive than built-ins
    Maximize wall space

    Freestanding wall units can be much less expensive than built-ins. Create a niche in the unit for a workstation to add even more function.

    It can hold anything you need to unloadIt can hold anything you need to unload
    Put furniture to work

    Multipurpose furniture is a must. If you don't have an entryway closet, a storage bench can hold anything you need to unload. Plus it can double as extra seating, rather than clunky folding chairs.

    Keep floor space openKeep floor space open
    Use a classic trick

    When you have limited rooms for your little ones,

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  • 8 Quick Chicken Dishes

    The staple ingredient soars to new flavorful heights with these easy-to-make meals, all ready in around 30 minutes or less.

    A blue-ribbon recipeA blue-ribbon recipe
    Chicken Cordon Bleu
    In an attempt to create something new, we sometimes forget how good the classics can be. That's the perfect reason to bring back cordon bleu in its simplest form to your table tonight.

    Yield: Serves 4
    Prep Time: 30 Minutes

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (8 oz. each)
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    4 ounces thinly sliced smoked ham
    4 ounces gruyère cheese, thinly sliced

    1. Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick frying pan. Sprinkle each chicken breast with 1/4 tsp. salt and lay in hot oil. Cook until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over and transfer pan to oven.

    2. Cook chicken until no longer pink in the center, about 10 minutes. Spread each breast with 1/2 tsp. mustard. Top each with ham, then

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  • 15 Genius Ways to Garden Anywhere

    On a driveway, atop a doghouse, up a wall--here's how to garden in small and unusual spaces.

    Space for a tiny garden in the middleSpace for a tiny garden in the middle
    Garden in a driveway

    Landscape architect Jeni Webber replaced this Palo Alto home's solid driveway with two strips of concrete, leaving space for a tiny garden in the middle.

    World's smallest parkWorld's smallest park
    In a posthole

    This mini park in downtown Portland (planted in a spot meant for a lamppost) proves that there is no space too small for a garden.

    Why be predictable?Why be predictable?
    Between pavers

    Randi Herman wanted to plant something unique between the pavers in her Berkeley backyard; instead of using predictable groundcovers she went for a mix of lettuces and beets.

    Use a ready-made redwood window boxUse a ready-made redwood window box
    On the patio

    Having fresh greens at your fingertips is one of the best parts of the growing season. And with a raised planter on the back patio, you can have a continual supply of salad greens nearly year-round.

    You can make one using a ready-made redwood window box from the nursery.

    A living roof for FidoA living roof for Fido
    Atop a doghouse

    Even Fido deserves a living roof.

    You can buy this stylish doghouse from

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