~* Scarecrow painted by me sometime in the 80's... *~
We have been enjoying gloriously cool weather here these last few days in New England, and though the calendar still says it is summer, in my heart and mind fall started on September 1st! In my opinion, autumn comes and goes much too quickly. Before we know it the bone-chilling winter cold will settle over us. So the time is now...the time to make the most of the season! And there are so many ways you can do that! Here are my "must do's" for making fall magical!
~* My ceramic scarecrow *~
DO get outdoors! This is the best weather of the year, especially here in New England (I realize that some of you down South may still be melting...). The days are warm but comfortable, the nights are crisp. The sun has that golden quality to it that you only see in the fall. What is better than a crisp, sunny, blustery fall day??? You can't enjoy it from indoors.
DO spend a day at your local apple orchard or pumpkin patch. What is fall without apples and pumpkins?!? This is fun for the whole family. Make a day of it. Pack a picnic and bring your favorite blanket and enjoy a fall lunch among the trees. Many orchards and pumpkin patches also offer hayrides, corn mazes, petting zoos, and quaint country stores where you can purchase freshly pressed apple cider and piping hot cider donuts!
~* Brooksby Farm, October 2008 *~
DO bring some autumn beauty to your own yard! Orchards, garden centers, and local nurseries are bursting with pot after pot after pot of colorful mums and other seasonal flowers, pumpkins, cornstalks, haybales...everything you need to liven up your yard before winter's frost takes the color away for a few months. Trust me, it will make you happy every time you leave your house!
DO take some time to make some yummy fall treats for your family and friends. With the heat of summer gone it is a great time to get back to the tummy warming, soul soothing comfort foods we all love...steamy soups, hearty stews, breads and muffins (like the yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe I will share at the end of this post!). What a wonderful way to use the last of your summer veggie and herb garden bounty!
~* Pumpkins everywhere! Brooksby Farm, October 2008 *~
DO take some time to bring a bit of autumn inside your home, too! Replace light summery linens with cozy fleece throws and flannel bedding. Change out table runners and place mats to thicker weaves in rich fall colors. Light candles that evoke the scents of the season: pumpkins, apples, harvest spices. Add some fall decor in to your everyday look. You don't have to go all out fall. Some candles and leaves on the mantle, or maybe a few pumpkins on the hearth, or a crock of acorns and bittersweet on the dining room table are all it takes.
~* Orange happiness!!! :-) *~
DO get in to the spirit of the season by reading some fun fall books. In my opinion, the best book about the season out there is Autumn by Susan Branch. If you don't own this book and you consider yourself a fall fanatic like me, you MUST get a copy! There are also several autumn cookbooks by Gooseberry Patch that are a must, too, even if you don't cook all that much! Besides recipes, there are ideas for entertaining, gift-giving, crafts, and celebrating the season.
DO capture the season. There are several ways to do this and everyone should do what works best for them. There are two ways I do this each year: journaling and picture-taking. No matter what time of year I don't go anywhere without a camera. I may not always carry around my dSLR but I always at least have my little point & shoot in my bag. I think both these cameras get the most use between the months of September and December. In addition to photographing the beauty of the season, I also journal. I am an avid papercrafter so every year I put together a fall journal/scrapbook. I put all the pages together ahead of time then during the season all I have to do is add my thoughts and pictures. I shared pictures of last year's journal in this post. I am so excited to share this year's, too! Soon...
~* Mums in the rich colors of the season, October 2008 *~
DO remember Halloween is not just for kids! Who says adults can't have fun, too?!? Carve jack o'lanterns! Dress up in a silly costume, even if it is just to hand out candy! Watch It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (c'mon...it's a classic!)! Eat candy till you feel like your teeth will fall out! Have a party! Go on a haunted hayride!
DO take advantage of the cool, bug-free nights! Have a neighborhood bonfire! Roast hot dogs and make s'mores! Tell ghost stories!
DO soak it all in. Autumn comes and goes too quickly. Revel in it's natural beauty. Breathe deeply and feel the crisp, clean air fill your lungs and relax your body and soul. I know a lot of people consider spring a time of awakening. Not me. I come alive when autumn arrives! I have a renewed energy and a bounce in my step! There is something in the air that sparks my soul.
There is nothing like autumn...make the most of it!
Here is that recipe I promised!
PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus 1 Tbsp. flour
Preheat oven to 400*. Line two 12 cup muffin pans with paper baking cups.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the sugar, pumpkin, oil, and applesauce and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, except for the chocolate chips. Blend the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients.
Sprinkle the 1 Tbsp. flour over the chocolate chips and stir to coat. This will keep the chips from sinking to the bottom of the muffins. Fold the coated chips in to the batter.
Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (different ovens will vary) or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins on a wire rack.