1. Apples. I had to start my list with the quintessential ambassador of fall. Gorgeous, delicious, juicy, crisp apples. Some of my favorite memories from the fall involve heading to an apple orchard, plucking a perfect apple off a tree, polishing it off on my jeans, and biting right into it (and please don’t admonish me for not washing it first — to wait until you could wash it is just too much to ask).
2. Pears. Poor pears. Always playing second fiddle to their cousins, the apples. They may not be as portable as apples with their more delicate texture, but a perfectly ripe pear is just as delicious in its own right. I have some stunning red ones ripening in a brown bag in my pantry right now. (And if you still wouldn’t place these on your top 20 list, come over to my house this weekend for baked brie in puff pastry served with slices of red pear and see if you change your mind!)
3. Butternut squash. The butternut squash rocks its versatility above all others. Some of my most favorite recipes for fall feature it, like butternut squash risotto and chicken and corn chowder with butternut squash. This year I’m also going to try a few new recipes like penne with butternut squash, pancetta and sage from Martha Stewart, and maybe butternut squash ravioli. By then I’ll be sick of it! (I took a picture of a butternut squash just for fun, but it came out looking, well, a little obscene.)
4. Pumpkins: the tasty way. Pumpkin bread, because making it makes my younger son giddy; pumpkin scones, because, well, yum. Nonfat pumpkin spice lattes with whip (because the nonfat cancels out the whip, right?); pumpkin bagels from Einstein Bros. Bagels (just make sure you buy them in September because they inexplicably stop serving them before Halloween).
5. Roasted pumpkin seeds. Salty goodness plus the fun of digging them out of the pumpkin and hoping for a really seedy one.
6. Candy corn. You either love it or hate it. I love it. So I allot myself one bag per season for the two people who love it at our house, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Stuff I love to do in the fall
7. Lighting up a spiced pumpkin candle from Yankee Candle. Not the pumpkin pie candle (too sweet for me). But burning that pumpkin spice in my kitchen is instant, cozy, warm fall.
8. Walking in the woods and gawking over the miracles of nature in the fall. From the tiniest acorn, to the giant ones with the gnarly caps; from my beloved, shiny buckeye nuts, to the many different berry branches; from the amber waving grasses to the ruby-colored leaves — it’s practically perfect.
9. Chilly fall nights featuring bonfires with friends. (And a great glass of red wine.)
10. Lighting a fire in the fireplace again. (And a great glass of red wine.)
11. Football tailgating. Notice I did not say football games. (I cringe every time someone gets hit.)
12. Fall back for daylight savings time. Honestly, who doesn’t love a bonus extra hour of sleep?
13. Thanksgiving. Start to finish. Growing up, we often celebrated with extended family. It was always a packed house — aunts, uncles, cousins, and so much joy. Some of my love of cooking stems from those Thanksgivings, standing at my grandfather’s elbow as he threw some extra brown sugar into the sweet potatoes and apples. Then learning how patient love can be, as I watched that grandpa gently blow on spoonfuls of the same sweet potatoes, before lifting the spoon to my grandmother’s mouth in the Alzheimer’s wing at the nursing home.
14. Shuffling your feet through crispy fallen leaves.
15. Fall sunsets at my parents’ new home. I’ll try to take a picture to share with you sometime this fall, but take my word for it. Over the water and the gently rolling hills of the golf course they back up to = stunning.
16. The tiniest of the trick-or-treaters on Halloween. The costumes, the shy “trick-or-treat” — it so reminds me of Halloween when my boys were little. Those Halloweens went fast!
Fall Decorating Stuff
17. Pumpkins: the decorating kind. Since my favorite color just may be orange, this is sooo obvious. But it’s not just the orange — it’s the funky shapes and textures you get with pumpkins too. And, really, what is cuter than a tiny pumpkin?! A tiny pumpkin laying on a bed of moss under a cloche maybe?
Or these gorgeous velvet pumpkins with real stems from Love Feast Shop.
18. Real bittersweet. When we lived in Kansas, I used to drive out into the country (which was about 10 minutes from my house) and find bittersweet growing on fence rows. Technically, I think it was stealing, but I brought my clippers and came home with bunches of the stuff (what’s the statute of limitations on weed theft I wonder?). I love the vividness of the berry color, and the wild way it tangles itself up.
19. Vintage Halloween decorations. Which I will share with you when Halloween rolls around.
20. Acorns and facorns. I have a little acorn fetish. They’re just so cute. I love that there are so many different varieties. I also love that Pottery Barn (and others) have perfected the fake acorn (facorn!) so you can use them over and over every year. Not to mention all of the other great fakes out there for fall.
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