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Monday, September 30, 2019

October Hopes and Dreams



Tiny shells, bits of translucent sea glass, and a weathered shard of pottery rest on the corner of the mirrored box on my dresser, serving as a reminder of the care-free, beach-combing days of this past summer.

The warm months were dotted with fun moments near the water. We culled the stretches of sand for the treasured bits that the tide and waves cast onto the shore. An evening or two was spent gaily tossing a Frisbee with my family at the waterside park. We picnicked at the water’s edge on several occasions. And we voyaged on the Washington state ferry across the Puget Sound to explore nearby islands.


As I peer under the lid of my mother’s cedar chest, I spy the textiles of autumn: woolen tweeds and plaids, cable-knit sweaters, fleecy throws, and flannel bedsheets. This is a day to throw my arms wide open and greet October.

Visits to the beach will be replaced by jolly excursions to local farms, quiet walks in our woods to collect pinecones and observe the fauna and flora, cozy Sunday afternoon lunches by the warming fireplace, and seasonal crafts and holiday gifts produced at my kitchen table.

Guests and family will be welcomed by the small, decorative touches of October in my home and garden, for which I’ll use stored, scavenged, and low-cost d├ęcor items. Table settings will change over from summer’s light, garden-inspired themes to the rich, earthy tones of autumn.

The vegetable garden will continue to produce but in a much-reduced capacity, bearing leafy greens, potatoes, winter squashes and pumpkins. Meanwhile, my indoor garden of sprouted legumes and micro-greens will come back to life with the help of southern-exposed windows and grow lights.

Edible manifestations of October will be seen in our Jack o’ Lantern cookies, a cake decorated with a creepy spider in its web, copious cups of hot apple and spice tisanes, batches of pumpkin-spice granola, plates full of apple pancakes, sizzling chili and cheese-smothered hot dogs, soups and stews of the hearty variety, and recipes that remind me of part of my ancestral heritage.

I may be sorry to see summer go away for several seasons, but there is a lot for which to look forward in this first full month of autumn. What seasonal specialties call your name in October?

16 comments:

Cat said...

October for me is the (at least theoretical!) start of the best of hiking season! Cooler, crisp evenings are so much nicer for camping/backpacking than hot muggy nights! Starting my first thru-hike attempt at the end of the month so I'm excitedly preparing not only for being gone from home for those 3 weeks as far as my own food resupplies go, but simple-to-prepare meals for my family while I'm gone, to include some frozen items for convenience.

Alice said...

Lili,

You have a lovely way of writing making the words come to life! I enjoyed reading this blog so much with lots of detail to make inanimate objects appear life-like.

I wish I was more intentional about the little details that could really give that "pop" around the home. The problem is that pretty tablecloths get ruined by the family cat who claws into things leaving "pulls" or cuts. Yeah, we should train her not to jump all over but we just love her so much that we allow it!

Pretty dishes is something I do have but they are so heavy that I just usually stick to my Corelle lightweight dishes. I do, however, love a lot of different casserole dishes and serving bowls. I also like very old fashioned dinners to serve in those dishes. Your pretty table setting reminds me I should serve a meal sometime starting with a small bowl of soup and then move into the main course. I rarely do that but I like that idea a lot.

We're starting to enter fall temperatures so I will be making more soups and casseroles. A favorite of mine is a Taco Crunch casserole similar to Hamburger Helper but all homemade. I think that will be on my menu later this week. Tonight is our last warm night so we're grilling beef and pork steaks. Since hubby can't have salads yet, I think I'll make some tomato soup to go with it.

Alice

Lili said...

Cat said...
October for me is the (at least theoretical!) start of the best of hiking season! Cooler, crisp evenings are so much nicer for camping/backpacking than hot muggy nights! Starting my first thru-hike attempt at the end of the month so I'm excitedly preparing not only for being gone from home for those 3 weeks as far as my own food resupplies go, but simple-to-prepare meals for my family while I'm gone, to include some frozen items for convenience.


Hi Cat,
that sounds really exciting. Can I ask -- have you always had an interest in hiking, or is this a passion that developed later in your life?

Good luck getting everything set not only for your trip but also for you family while you're gone.

Lili said...

Alice said...
. . .we should train her not to jump all over but we just love her so much that we allow it!

Pretty dishes is something I do have but they are so heavy that I just usually stick to my Corelle lightweight dishes. I do, however, love a lot of different casserole dishes and serving bowls. I also like very old fashioned dinners to serve in those dishes. Your pretty table setting reminds me I should serve a meal sometime starting with a small bowl of soup and then move into the main course. I rarely do that but I like that idea a lot.

We're starting to enter fall temperatures so I will be making more soups and casseroles. A favorite of mine is a Taco Crunch casserole similar to Hamburger Helper but all homemade. I think that will be on my menu later this week. Tonight is our last warm night so we're grilling beef and pork steaks. Since hubby can't have salads yet, I think I'll make some tomato soup to go with it.


Hi Alice,
Thank you for such kind words!
It's funny you should say that about your cat, I was just discussing this same sort of thing with a friend the other day, about how cats just have their own mind about everything. Once they're mature, it seems that training them to do anything you want is fruitless. Our own cat would jump on the kitchen counter and this just horrified my father when he'd visit us. My friend's cat was on the kitchen table when I walked in her house. I assured her that my own experience with cats was much the same. So, just enjoy your love for your cat and skip having things that she'll destroy so you'll feel better.

Is your area one that is going to be hit hard with the wintery storm tomorrow? Soups and casseroles sound like just the thing for that kind of weather. That Taco Casserole sounds delicious! Enjoy tonight's last warm evening for grilling. Your plan sounds like a great one!

Anonymous said...

Alice,

Would you share your Taco Crunch casserole recipe? :) I'm always wanting to add something new to our rotation.

Angie

Kris said...

October is my favorite month. I bought a couple of pumpkins from Aldi this week which are now on my front porch. I have a few autumnal/pumpkin decorations I've purchased through the years (mostly from Target's dollar area) and with switching out a few color changes in silk flowers, throws, etc., voila, I have autumn in my house!

Like Cat, I enjoy hiking .... but I'm a day hiker--more power to her for what she's doing! It's the time of year to pull out sweaters, fleece, throws, and to eat apple and pumpkin products. I also start making more soups/stews and breads.

Alice, yes, I agree, when you get a chance, I would also like your taco crunch casserole recipe.

Alice said...

No, our area is not where the big snow storm storm is supposed to hit. We are going to have a lot of rain though.

The taco crunch casserole is one I use from this website:
http://iowagirleats.com/2014/03/24/homemade-crunchy-taco-hamburger-helper-30-minute-meal/

It is so good and we sometimes eat it inside a taco or tortilla.

Just a note about the cat--when we were gone for 3 weeks, our other cat died. The two were never friends but more like companions for 9 years. I feel like she died of a broken heart in that we left one day and never came back. My heart is broken. I believe she was having health issues being geriatric with a heart murmur and some respiratory issues especially when the weather changes but I never expected this. My adult son was home when she died and he carefully, thoughtfully, and emotionally took care of her death and burial. He took pictures for us since we couldn't be there and we all shed tears we never thought would happen. That is why we let the remaining cat do anything right now. She's mad at us for being gone so long. She's also sad her buddy is gone and I think she's very lonely. I just can't lose her right now.

Alice

Matt Macduff Family said...

That table cloth looks strikingly similar to a Macduff hunting (or ancient plaid) shirt that my husband had for many years! I love it! Where ever did you find it?

Also, to the person who commented several posts back about my daughter's PT. The physical therapist seems to be willing to work with us on making the exercises home friendly. Thanks for the recommendation to ask about it. Melissa

Kris said...

Melissa, that was me who talked about the PT making a home program. Sometimes I accidentally click "anonymous". Glad the PT is working with you.

Alice, thanks for the recipe link! On a different note--so sorry about your kitty cat's passing. That's a hard thing to get through at any time--I can't imagine being so far away from home and anxious about your husband's health, too. Your son sounds like a gem.

Lili said...

Kris said...
October is my favorite month. I bought a couple of pumpkins from Aldi this week which are now on my front porch. I have a few autumnal/pumpkin decorations I've purchased through the years (mostly from Target's dollar area) and with switching out a few color changes in silk flowers, throws, etc., voila, I have autumn in my house!

Like Cat, I enjoy hiking .... but I'm a day hiker--more power to her for what she's doing! It's the time of year to pull out sweaters, fleece, throws, and to eat apple and pumpkin products. I also start making more soups/stews and breads.


Hi Kris,
your home sounds inviting, yet easy to switch over -- that's my style, too.
I haven't bought any pumpkins yet. We can't put them on the front porch because of the squirrels, but I like to have a few in the windows.
Soup is a great way to warm up in chilly weather. I'm also drinking a lot of tea these days.
Have a great day, Kris.

Lili said...

Alice said...
Just a note about the cat--when we were gone for 3 weeks, our other cat died. The two were never friends but more like companions for 9 years. I feel like she died of a broken heart in that we left one day and never came back. My heart is broken. I believe she was having health issues being geriatric with a heart murmur and some respiratory issues especially when the weather changes but I never expected this. My adult son was home when she died and he carefully, thoughtfully, and emotionally took care of her death and burial. He took pictures for us since we couldn't be there and we all shed tears we never thought would happen. That is why we let the remaining cat do anything right now. She's mad at us for being gone so long. She's also sad her buddy is gone and I think she's very lonely. I just can't lose her right now.


Oh, Alice. I had forgotten about your dear kitty. I hope I didn't sound callous in my comments about your cat's habits. Your son did an outstanding job taking care of everything for you while you were gone. I'm glad for you that you could rely on him to do this while you were so busy and preoccupied with your husband's health.

Thanks for the link to the recipe. It sounds delicious!

Lili said...

Melissa said...
That table cloth looks strikingly similar to a Macduff hunting (or ancient plaid) shirt that my husband had for many years! I love it! Where ever did you find it?


Hi Melissa,
I looked up the MacDuff hunting plaid, just to see it. It's a beautiful tartan. This "tablecloth" is actually a piece of yardage, waiting for me to sew it into something. I think it's more in the browns that the MacDuff from what I could see online, but you're right, the two do have a similar feel.
Hope your week is going well, Melissa.

Cat said...

"Hi Cat,
that sounds really exciting. Can I ask -- have you always had an interest in hiking, or is this a passion that developed later in your life?

Good luck getting everything set not only for your trip but also for you family while you're gone."

I started hiking about 5 years ago with my kids when we still homeschooled. We went to an easy group hike on a nearby wildlife refuge. Just a couple miles, but that was hard for me physically (systemic lupus and Hashimoto's). Eventually, the kids went to public school, and I kept hiking, and started doing more miles and harder hikes. I <3 it! After a few years of that and reading AT memoirs, I decided to try backpacking. That was spring 2017. From then till October 2018, I backpacked about 80 miles total, always with one or more friends. Since October 2018 till now, I've done about 400 miles backpacking, about half of that solo. That does not count local hiking and walking, just backpacking trips. The upcoming 223 miler will be a new adventure. I've section-hiked that, but never done something so long in one trip. Fingers crossed!

Lili said...

Cat, you are an inspiration! Thinking good thoughts for you for this upcoming trip!

Cat said...

"Cat, you are an inspiration! Thinking good thoughts for you for this upcoming trip!"

Thank you, Lili! Nervous and excited both for this trip. Hoping I can do it! Today, I was diagnosed with celiac disease which means no gluten whatsoever. I had all my food prepped for the trip but about half of it won't work now. So back to work on that. I leave 3 weeks from today to do a trail maintenance work weekend before beginning my hike.


Lili said...

Oh gosh, Cat. I'm sorry to hear that. Best of luck to you in dealing with this diagnosis. I can imagine this throws a wrench into so many of your plans. I'll keep you in my prayers.

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