Monday, October 25, 2010

Autumnal Cheer: Leaves, Mums, and Pumpkins

Sure, sure...those are the obvious ones and I didn't start out with them because they were so very obvious. But I get great pleasure out of seeing the colorful leaves, the blooming mums, and the plump orange (and green and white and striped!) pumpkins so they were a MUST to include in my "Autumnal Cheer" posts. One of my very favorite moments of autumn each year is seeing the results from a gust of wind gently scattering some leaves through the air. It's especially fun to drive along a winding, tree-lined road during the fall. Agreed? That's what I thought. That's why you're here, right? We're on the same wavelength.

Jeremy knows I love mums and he surprised me with a pot of yellow ones at the beginning of the season. It was happy. =) I recently bought some yellowish-orangeish-reddish ones at Wal-mart for $3.33 each. They were a good size and the colors together are amazing! I just couldn't pass them up.

When did those cute white pumpkins start popping up? I don't remember seeing them when I was growing up, but we used quite a few of them in our wedding and reception decor two years ago. And I just can't resist a funky green and white striped one! Incredibly fun to mix and match all of the colors together. And with Halloween coming up this weekend, I'm facing the same conundrum I have to face every single autumn. Do I carve them? Or do I let them be? If I dooon't carve them, they'll stay pretty for the rest of the season - and it's still fall, all the way through November. Last year we carved two nice-sized orange ones on Halloween night. I hadn't carved a pumpkin in years (if you read between the lines, there's the usual answer to my conundrum) and I cannot was difficult and messy, but so much fun! We may carve a couple more sometime this week and keep the rest to sit pretty on our porch.

We love pumpkins so much, I have to show you something. 
This is our front yard. 

It takes HOURS but it's totally worth it. Or I'm just kidding about the whole thing. Hmmm...which is it?

Well, we do love pumpkins. But we don't love them quite that much. This incredible display is found at the UT Agricultural Center in Jackson, TN. It's different every year and always very over-the-top and very, very cool.

Back to our house, though...In addition to the regular natural decorations that grace the outside of our house, I must always bring the autumn inside, too. 

Those pictures are actually from last year. I am just noticing that I never do exactly the same display on our mantle or our table. But I haven't taken pictures in our house yet this year, so you'll just have to trust me on that one. 

Get out and enjoy the falling leaves today! Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Autumnal Cheer: NaNoWriMo

I first discovered the wonder of National Novel Writing Month (lovingly shortened to NaNoWriMo) back four or five years ago. Wait, four. Here's how I know. I found out about it riiight as it was about to start and I didn't have a computer so I couldn't really participate. Sigh! And then I was ALL SET to participate the next year and then ended up being "introduced" to Jeremy on Facebook at the end of October three years ago. And though I started my novel, I actually spent all my spare novel-writing time in November writing to Future Husband instead. Which I do not regret at all. =) Then we got married the next November. So, with wedding planning, honeymooning, moving into a new place, and getting ready for Christmas, well, that novel-writing business had to fall by the wayside.

Because, look, it's no joke. These crazy people found out that you can write a whole novel in a MONTH. But there's no dilly-dallying around, man. Well, they do have a place on their website called Procrastination Station, but still. If you haven't tried it and you like to write, you should TRY IT. I've started it three times, I think, and didn't get all that far, but I was fired up about it each time! I was absolutely swept away by the idea and their website. It's totally amusing and many times, laugh-out-loud funny. You must read the information about it (What is NaNoWriMo? and How It Works) - oh, and the intriguing History. Here's the link to the main page of the website:

Have you written any bits of November novels? Have any of you actually finished one? I'd love to hear about it. =)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sparkling Conversation

Before I can continue my series of blog posts on Autumnal Cheer, I must share a funny conversation with you. I suppose I could have just slipped this into the series because it brought me much cheer when it happened and when it happened, it was autumn. Hmmm...

Jeremy: Do you see sparkles on my lips?

Kristen: (upon closer inspection) Um, yes. (the laughter begins)

Jeremy: (staring in mirror with great concern) What is it? Do you know what it is? I've been trying to figure it out. It's there every day.

Kristen: (can hardly get the explanation out) It's my new lip gloss. It has sparkles - this is the first time I've seen it on you, though! I promise!

Jeremy: I thought I was going to have to replace my razor. I really thought it had started leaving shards of metal on my lips when I shaved.

Kristen: (I only thought I was laughing before. Now I am doubled over with laughter.) Are you SERIOUS? No, it's just my lip gloss. I tried to buy my regular mint kind again, but they only had this "True Shimmer" kind...

Jeremy: Yes, I'm serious. I thought my razor was falling apart!

Kristen: Hey, I hear that vampires sparkle. I mean, I haven't read any of the Twilight books, but that's what I hear.

And so now before my husband grabs a quick kiss, he holds me at arm's length to make sure I will not be spreading any sparkly "metal shards" to his person. I do have a new lip gloss now. It's mint but it is not sparkly. It's going to take awhile to regain his trust. =)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Autumnal Cheer: Chai Tea

Before the sumac starts turning red and the first pumpkins are spotted for sale on the side of the road, this girl longs for autumn. Not simply because of the sweet relief it brings from the stifling summer humidity, though, that's a large part of it...but because of an exceedingly large amount of small pleasures that the season brings. I could write my longest post yet about my love of all things autumnal (small pleasure number one = the word "autumnal") because there is so much material. I have discovered that I'm not the only one. Yes, if you wax poetic about your love of fall in your Facebook status, I will be clicking the "Like" button. There's an enormous amount of people who adore autumn and I revel in the shared anticipation and, finally, the actual beginning of the season.

I have made the executive decision that instead of one loooong post which would define "verbose," I'll be making many short posts on the small pleasures of autumn. The first of which will deal with my way of summoning the season while it was blatantly summertime. It was stubborn but it must have worked. I have a feeling that God delights in seasonal changes that bring us so much pleasure.

Alright, I have to admit that I started my ritual of drinking hot chai tea every morning while it was still...gasp...very, very hot outside. There is such a thing as air conditioning, so the experience was entirely doable. Try not to freak out. If you've never tried chai tea...well, you must. Unless you don't like gingerbread or pumpkin pie spice or other marvelous things like that. There are some people who don't, you know. But I don't know any of them. Probably because they'd be too afraid to admit it to me; I can be very opinionated when it comes to tea and also, things that make my tastebuds rejoice. Especially my autumnal tastebuds. Which brings us back to chai tea. It's a black tea with ginger and cardamom and other spices. It's traditional to use half tea, half heated milk or cream to make this concoction. It turns out to be a very light-colored tea because of this major addition. And when you take a sip, you won't be able to deny that it tastes like fall. How happy is that? Very.

Of course, there are loose teas or chai tea bags you can use to great effect, but here lately, I have tried something new. Tazo tea has a boxed liquid chai tea - a chai tea concentrate - that is truly stunning. It has an excellent spicy taste, even more so that the loose tea I also frequent. It's already sweetened and you can drink it hot or iced. Both are equally good. Just add the milk or cream. Super simple. I believe I bought it at Target, but I think I've also seen it at the Wal-Mart.

Give it a whirl. And let me know what you think. =) And also, do you have any other favorite brands I should try? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Autumn!