Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Touches of Fall

Who doesn't just love when the air gets crisp, leaves grow vibrant and pumpkin spice lattes are everywhere?

This is my first fall as a married woman with my own home to decorate.  Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot of space to do so, as you've all heard me lament before.  Likewise, my budget is somewhat to be desired, so the mission was to get some nice, simple touches for the fall season to make our apartment cute and cozy.

My first touch of fall cost a grand total of $0.  Some local fall foliage and wildflowers filled a vase we received as a wedding gift that had sat empty for far too long.  Bringing the autumn growing outside in.

Sadly, however, these lovely wildflowers wilted within a few days, so a trip to Hobby Lobby provided a wonderful and much longer lasting replacement, although they were quite a bit more expensive than my original arrangement.

The next little touch was a pumpkin the hubby picked up for me at our local neighborhood Wal-Mart one evening on a grocery run.  He knows how much I love fall, so this fellow was right up my alley.  To commemorate our first autumn as a married couple, I painted our monogram on it, and so far, it's lasted over a month!

Along the same vein of touch number three, number four involved buying a bag of assorted gourds and a glass bowl (which will come in handy for a variety of uses later on).  Perfect fall piece for the coffee table.  They've also lasted well over a month.

This next few items may be a little bit kitschy, but they are fun and can be reused for future seasons. I got this autumn-themed dish towel for just a few bucks!

I've been wanting flowers for our porch ever since we moved in, but I wasn't sure what kind would do well in this climate.  I'm used to it being warm till about mid-December or January!  So, how could I resist a $4 silk arrangement complete with synthetic wheat accents, rustic pail and ribbon??

With all the fun Halloween stuff that was being advertised at the end of October, I had to get in on some of the action!  Robert, however, never celebrated Halloween growing up and is still somewhat uncomfortable with the entire holiday.  So, out of respect for that, I figured some candy corn and candy pumpkins were appropriate for fall in general, celebrated the harvest (which is very relevant here in the Prairie State) and still harkened to one of my most beloved holidays!

Last but not least, my little touches of fall should be enjoyed by all of the senses, not just sight!  Smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory, and fall is very nostalgic for me.  And taste is, in my opinion, the most enjoyable sense (I'm such a glutton!), so, I have included a stew recipe and my favorite fall Starbucks drink.

Cozy Autumn Stew:
-2 sliced carrots
-2 potatoes, diced into 1" pieces
-2 yellow onions, quartered
-1 sliced celery stalk
-1 lb. beef stew meat cut into 1" chunks
-3/4 cup beef broth
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 clove minced garlic
-salt and pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together, cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.

Pumpkin Chai Latte or Caramel Chai Latte

What's in it:
-Chai tea concentrate
-hot water
-steamed milk (I prefer non-fat)
-pumpkin syrup OR caramel/sugar-free caramel syrup
-cinnamon sprinkled on top

You can also get it iced, if you live somewhere warm or if you have a high tolerance for the cold.  Up here, I'm all about the hot fall drinks!

And those, my friends, are the little touches of fall that have made the season that much more special.  Celebrating the flavors, the colors, the crops, and the weather reminds me of all the wonderful reasons to take some time and enjoy the variety that life offers.  The joys of fall are just a few of the beautiful things in this world, and every year they touch my heart.  How has it touched yours?

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