Fall Fun

Fall Activities

You know when you have plans and life goes “Haha, nice try!” right in your face? This month has been a whirlwind – two work trips, a long weekend in Michigan to visit family, Halloween/birthday party planning, with a bad cough/cold in between… Whew! I’m looking forward to a level-set in November, but right now I’m focused on enjoying this last week of October.

While I had planned on doing a few more fall-themed posts this month, I decided to not stress about the missed days and highlight “what could have been” – it will be great to come back to these ideas next year!

Franklin Cider Mill

  • Cider Mills: During our trip to Michigan we were able to visit the Franklin Cider Mill – you haven’t enjoyed a donut until you’ve had one from a cider mill! Warm, cinnamon-y, and delicious! Here’s a link to find a cider mill near you.
  • Apple Orchards: If you’re looking for more than just good cider and donuts, try an apple orchard! You might get lucky and find one with family hayrides, corn mazes, and even an on-site restaurant. You can find one in your state by visiting this website.
  • Pumpkin Carving Party: As a kid, I really hated carving pumpkins. You’d always find me dry-heaving in a corner somewhere, grossed out by the smell and texture of pumpkin innards (gross). I was only a little bit dramatic, I swear. So of all my big ideas, this was the one I was most looking forward to – I want to get over my pumpkin guts phobia… but no one wants to plan/host a party when you’re sick, so I’m putting this on my October 2015 bucket list. Martha has you covered if you still have time to plan one of your own.
  • Fall Picnic: I’m blessed to live in an area full of beautiful parks. Once the leaves start to change next fall, I’m planning an easy menu for a lunch near the lake at Centennial Park.
  • Haunted Houses: Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll make it to a haunted house this season. I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, but back in Michigan there were so many fantastic choices… We’ve yet to find a good, local haunt spot. A couple of years ago we visited the Eastern State Penitentiary which was pretty spooky (if you could get over the hundreds of other people who were walking through the halls of the haunted prison).
  • Horror Movies: Luckily, being sick hasn’t prevented us from enjoying some gruesome horror films. I’ve gone from tolerating to actually enjoying most of the horror movies my husband has exposed me to – I prefer more psychological, mind-twisting stories over the standard blood-and-guts variety. One of my recent favorites is “Maniac” with Elijah Wood (super creepy!)… but maybe I’ll muster up the courage to finally watch “Saw” on its 10-year anniversary.
  • Costume Party: Instead of a house party this year, we’re taking our Halloween/Alex’s Birthday celebrations down to Fell’s Point in Baltimore. It’s great for the people-watching and bar-hopping prospects – check out these pictures from just a couple of years ago. I’m pretty excited about my homemade costume this year, I’m sure I’ll share a couple before and after pics on Instagram 🙂

What fun fall activities did you get into this season? And what exciting plans do you have for Halloween? Let me know in the comments!



Fall DIY Project

Fall DIY Project

Everyone loves a good DIY project – especially me! I whipped up this quick canvas project in less than 2 hours with materials I had laying around my apartment (can’t beat that, right?).


  • Canvas
  • Scrap fabric
  • Colored paper (I used orange scraps left over from my wedding crafts, but a mix of orange, red, brown, and yellow would look great, too)
  • Tacky glue
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Binder clips

Since I wanted to reuse my canvas (and because I didn’t plan on hanging it), I folded the fabric around it and secured it with binder clips. You could always secure with heavy-duty glue or staples if you don’t plan on reusing your canvas. This could also work on scrap paper and placed in a frame, too!

Next I drew a variety of leaf shapes on my scrap paper – a quick image search will give you plenty of inspiration. Because I wanted rough, jagged edges on my leaves, I stacked 5-6 sheets under the stencil and cut around my outline.

Once all my leaves were cut, I randomly glued the leaves down to the fabric. I chose this method because I wanted it to have a loose, handmade feel.

Voila! A quick, easy DIY that brought a little fall indoors.

Fall DIY Project Steps

A New Season

turning leaves by misty morning prints Changing your habits is never an easy task, even if those changes are forced upon you. Ask someone who is fighting an illness or disease and has to drastically change their eating habits. It is 100% a mental game. 

How many New Year’s resolutions have you made and not followed through on? Or maybe you’ve committed to cleaning more frequently around your house after a particularly grueling round of spring cleaning… only to fall back in your dust-when-company-is-coming ways just a few short weeks later.

Recently, I looked around my apartment with utter shock at the amount of gidgets, gadgets, knick-knacks, pairs of shoes, you-name-it laying around our 1,000-ish square foot, 1 bedroom/1 den apartment. Shirts I haven’t worn in over a year still hang in my closet. Pots and pans and kitchen tools I probably forgot how to use are taking up limited cabinet space. Books I’ll never read. Bottles of lotion and nail polish.

My initial reaction was annoyance. Look at all the money I had wasted buying (or asking for) things I didn’t need. At the time, the slightly pinkier pink nail polish brought me happiness. Now I just wanted to throw it out – the color didn’t work with my skin tone anyway. I imagined living in a tiny house set in the woods with a finite list of belongings. But then I glanced around at all the items I held onto for sentimental value and realized downsizing that much wasn’t really my style, either.

As I get closer to turning 30, I am making a conscience effort to become the woman I want to be – a checklist of how I want to be in my personal relationships, my career, my everyday life. Not that there’s anything wrong with me now, but I don’t see myself as a woman who watches TV more than reads books (even though at the moment I know more about ‘The Real Housewives’ than Shakespeare). Preparing to become a parent (we’re not really trying, but I know it’s not too far into the future) has also made me look at the choices I’ve made and those I need to make very differently.

#2: Limit TV watching to 1 hour each weekday. #5: Eat clean. #9: Find a signature scent. And now, #12: Edit belongings and change shopping habits. I had added another item to my transformational checklist.

Luckily, two back-to-back work trips prevented me from irrationally throwing out my non-necessities as a quick-solve for #12. As I was walking around in Boston during the beginning of my second event, I had the opportunity to walk through the Boston Public Garden. Although it was well into October, only a few trees had started to turn from green to red or gold – one in particular caught my eye. It was half red and half green. In the middle of its transformation.

Fall is a season of change and I am in a season of change myself. It’s okay that I don’t have it all figured out – I can be partly red and partly green and still okay with my progress. Change isn’t easy but it’s the one part of life that is constant. As long as I keep a positive and realistic outlook on what I am working toward, I think that will help make me the woman I want to be.

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

Ashley is one amazing cook – she’s always finding recipes and tweaking to make them better or just coming up with some delicious meals and snacks on her own. Today she’s sharing her recipe for tomato + fennel jam, one of my all-time favorite foods. It’s great as a snack with some burrata or mozzarella cheese, as a topping for meatloaf or chicken, and even as a condiment on a fancy grilled cheese (all of which I’ve tried with much success)!

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

I am NOT a fan of tomatoes, or raw fennel. Licorice, ew. *shivers* However, this past summer, Misty told me about one of her favorite appetizers from a local restaurant. After reluctantly trying it for myself (hey! it came with cheese and bread!), I attempted to create my own tomato and fennel jam. I checked out a few recipes online for inspiration and here’s what I came up with. Enjoy!

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 vidalia onion
1 fennel bulb
4-5 cloves garlic
2 pounds tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
5.5 oz (small can) tomato juice
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a large saute pan on medium/high heat with olive oil (or your choice of fat). Slice the onion in to thin rings and add it to pan. You can try other kinds of onion, but I like the sweetness from vidalia. Dice the fennel bulb (not the stems) and add it to the pan with the onion. Add garlic cloves, salt, and pepper. Saute 45-60 minutes on low/medium heat, stirring every 8-10 minutes while the onions caramelize. Turn down the heat if it begins to brown too quickly.

While the mixture cooks, cut your tomatoes in to halves or quarters. I did attempt to fire-roast mine since I have a gas stove, but after about finishing 3-4 tomatoes I decided it wasn’t worth my time. I used campari tomatoes. I’m planning to try this with roma and cherry tomatoes next time. Let me know if you try another kind!

Once your mixture has caramelized, add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and tomato juice to the pan. Bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer until it thickens. This should take 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Voila! You now have an awesome tomato and fennel jam that fills a regular mason jar. Can you believe all of those veggies fit in one jar?

Please share any comments, suggestions, or reviews of this recipe!

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

Tomato + Fennel Jam Recipe

Getting Cozy


Part of the reason I think I’m in love with fall is that it encourages people to be homebodies (a term I would definitely use to describe myself, even though I have a packed calendar). The cooler temperatures, but not cool enough to kick the heat on yet, make me want to snuggle up on the couch on a Saturday night, wrapped up in an oversized blanket with a hot mug of something (let’s be real, it’s usually something spiked).

Below are my favorite ways to achieve ultimate coziness. I’d love to hear how you like to celebrate the chilly fall months in the comments below!

Big, fluffy (and preferably heated) blankets. My hubby runs a little warmer than me, so it’s not uncommon for us to run our A/C until mid-October. I have a plethora of quilts, comforters, and blankets on hand, but my favorite is this fluffy heated blanket that was an anniversary gift. It’s perfect because it’s large enough to share and has three heat settings. A Forever Lazy or Cookie Monster pajama pants work just as well, though 😉

Candles. Something about burning a candle all day just makes my heart happy. It’s soothing to me – the soft light, the gentle heat, the scent (of course). I’m a big fan of heavy scents more than fruity ones. Earthy and musky, almost like a luxurious men’s cologne. My favorite right now is Mahogany Teakwood from Bath and Body Works but the fall begs for apple cinnamon and pumpkin spice, so I have a couple of those on-hand, too.

Fuzzy socks. Because I can’t wrap up my heated blanket and walk around my apartment with it, I wear a variety of stylish (okay, maybe not-so-stylish) fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm. Thank goodness we don’t have hardwood floors (my clumsiness would go off the charts!). #Protip – don’t run them through the dryer, they stay super fluffy if you let them air-dry!

Warm drinks. I’m not a big coffee drinker and I hate tea (there, I said it). But I love mulled cider, hot chocolate, and warm fall cocktails. Once again, Pinterest is my go-to for drink recipes like Martha’s mulled cider or the peppermint patty.

Movies. I’m a big fan of movies. Few people aren’t, but I would argue that I watch WAY more movies than most of the people I know. I love talking about them, discussing plot points, actors and their roles, directing choices, cinematography… I consider it a pastime of sorts. Although we go to the theater once a week, to me nothing is better than gathering my blanket, a warm drink, and the people I love to watch a great movie on my comfy couch.

Music. Everyone knows music is an important way to set a mood (try to imagine your favorite movie without the soundtrack). For me, I listen to a lot of Motown, classic R&B, and Blues from October through November (when I start listening to Christmas music nonstop). I don’t know if there’s a reason other than habit, but the smooth sounds with the crackle of older recordings just transport me to a calm, relaxing place.

Stay comfy, my friends!

Maryland Renaissance Festival 2014

Even if you’re not into medieval sword fighting, fire-breathing dragons, wearing corsets, or shopping for leather goods, I highly recommend visiting a local renaissance festival. We go every year during the fall season, so it’s become a bit of tradition for us (we are lucky enough to have lived near the Michigan and now Maryland sites).

Maryland RennFest 2014

People watching is one of my favorite pastimes, and RennFest is a great place for it – people go all out on their costumes, like this group who made their own!

Maryland RennFest 2014

I love walking in and out of the little shops and talking to the owners and artisans who are showcasing their goods.

Maryland RennFest 2014

Maryland RennFest 2014

Maryland RennFest 2014

Hands down, the best part of going to a RennFest is the entertainment. Musicians, magicians, sword swallowers, jesters, jousters, acrobats… The stages are full all day with high-quality acts that are more than worth the admission.

Maryland RennFest 2014

Maryland RennFest 2014

Maryland RennFest 2014

Have you attended a renfest in your area? What’s your favorite part?

Maryland RennFest 2014

Maryland RennFest 2014

Maryland RennFest 2014

My Favorite Fall Fashion

I don’t consider myself a fashionista. The last time I picked up a Vogue was when Jennifer Lawrence was on the cover and I wanted to see her gorgeous photos with the glossy shine of a magazine slick.

I do, however, love to spruce up my wardrobe each fall. Maybe it’s residual excitement from back-to-school shopping, but I find myself adding a few chunky sweaters, a dark pair of jeans, and a few accessories to the mix every season.

This year I will need to do a little more damage to our bottom line… I accidentally donated all my sweaters to Goodwill when getting rid of my chubby clothes. (Note to self: label everything!) Here are some of the items on my wishlist, along with what I consider to be fall’s best trends.


Leather jacket (faux, of course). While robe coats were all over the runway this season, my go-to outerwear choice for the crisp fall months is a sleek faux leather jacket. The right one will look good with anything underneath it, from jeans and a flannel to a LBD. I love sleek styles, like this one from Wilsons Leather in black.

Layers. When done right, this is my favorite fall look. Try a patterned oxford under a solid sweater or a chambray top and heavy tights under your favorite summer dress. It’s so fun to mix and match different patterns and styles!

Scarves. The most versatile accessory a girl can have, in my opinion – have you seen this video with all the different ways to tie a scarf? I’m on the hunt for a great skull patterned scarf, like this one from Etsy.

Chunky sweaters. It could be because I work from home, but I find myself drawn more to comfy clothes that are slightly too big and feature expanding waistlines. Thick, large-knit sweaters are definitely my bag.

Boots. Tall, short, casual, dressy… doesn’t matter for this fall staple. I have my tall pair of brown and black boots that can easily be dressed up or down. I’ve had my eyes on these casual boots from Target. A nice pair of booties for professional trips would be great, too.

Flannel + flashy necklace. Something new for me this year, and a trend that’s popping up on my Pinterest feed. Pairing a fancy necklace with a more casual flannel top is a fun way to dress up for fall outings.

October 2014 Edition // Fall Fun


October tends to be the most exciting and fun month of the year for me. There’s something about the leaves changing from green to golden yellow, bright red, and orange rust that beckons me to play outside a little more, before the snow keeps me bundled up for the winter. My calendar is packed with more trips, visits to a pumpkin patches and cider mills, and (if I’m lucky) a bonfire or two.

Halloween also happens to be my husband’s birthday/favorite holiday, so we decorate early with skulls, ghosts, and generally creepy things throughout our place. The month isn’t complete if we don’t make it to at least one haunted house. Halloween costumes are picked out with more care than our wedding attire.

This month I’m excited to share my favorite fall fashion, recipes, and activities, including tips on how to throw your own pumpkin carving party for friends!

I know I wrapped up the travel edition last month, but I wanted to share some of my favorite shots from our trip to Gatlinburg. I felt so at home in the Smokies and the whole group of us had a fantastic time exploring, sampling moonshine, and spending time at the gorgeous cabin.