It's October! It was the first thought when I opened my eyes this morning. I am so excited for fall! The weather is going to get cooler (or so the meteorologist tells me), and I am SO READY for this awesome season! My mind has been buzzing all morning with things I want to do to make it even more special than it already is, so I thought I'd share some of my ideas with you, complete with links to projects that are better than my ideas could ever be! Click "Read More" for the full list.
1. Make something delicious with pumpkin in it - that's NOT pumpkin pie!
It's no secret that fall is a time for pumpkins, and anybody who looks at Pinterest during this time is no doubt inundated with ideas for incorporating pumpkin into desserts, breakfasts, and even savory dinners. The go-to always seems to be pumpkin pie. And don't get me wrong - I LOVE me some pumpkin pie. But this year, let's go a little further, shall we? Think outside the pumpkin this year, and make something really special. Maybe the recipe you try this month will become a family tradition - or maybe it will be absolutely disgusting and you'll end up ordering pizza instead. :) Either way, let's make a vow to get dangerous in the kitchen this month. Here are some (kind of crazy) ideas to get you started:
2. Make at least one Halloween or fall decoration from scratch.
Some people go all out with their decorations in October, whether they're going for a haunted-house look or a cozy fall-inspired concept. But some people (like me) sort of forget that October is a great month for special decorating ideas. This month, do ONE thing to make your home look fall-ready. I've given some ideas below, ranging from super-simple one-hour projects to complex multi-day efforts. Follow the instructions step-by-step...or use these to inspire you to create something entirely different! I've noticed that for me, I tend to ignore my surroundings. I work from home so I'm basically surrounded by the same stuff day in and day out. It never actually occurs to me to change anything. But when you put effort into even ONE change, it can be hugely refreshing! And when you make it yourself, it is guaranteed to make you smile.
3. Start a Christmas planning list.
I don't know about anybody else, but Christmas always manages to sneak up on me. I find myself on December 19th frantically ordering presents from Amazon and bemoaning the fact that Christmas is yet again upon me and I am NOT. READY. Whether you're hosting your whole extended family this Christmas or just spending a quiet day at home by yourself or a few loved ones, go ahead and start a checklist now, maybe even with dates you can program into your calendar, so you can ease into the holiday season with control and confidence. That way, when the big day rolls around, you don't have to feel frazzled, and you can actually enjoy yourself! Here are some great Christmas preparation checklists to give you some ideas:
(This is just week one of a whole series of excellent blog posts.)
4. Finalize Thanksgiving plans.
Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Staying home and cooking for your family? Regardless of your plans, this would be a great time to set them in stone as much as possible. Book your travel arrangements and hotel reservations now, plan your recipes and cooking schedule, and start thinking about what you're thankful for. Just as with Christmas above, Thanksgiving is intended to be a reflective time for family and well-being - NOT an emotional burden! Below are a few Thanksgiving ideas to start the gears turning, including one fantastic resource for putting together a casual, laid-back Thanksgiving brunch.
5. Go for a nature hike.
Here in San Antonio, the weather is JUST starting to cool off. Today it's only a high of 93! That's practically boots-and-scarves weather for us South Texans. If you're lucky, you live in a place that turns beautiful colors during this time of year, and the weather should be turning crisp and cool, if it hasn't already. This is a perfect time to explore nature at least once. Go for a walk with your family or alone. Don't do it for exercise. Do it for the peace and joy of it. Take pictures, or bring a sketchbook so you can capture the beautiful things you see. Look at the ground and in the trees and find signs of animals preparing for winter. Animals are just as busy as we are during the fall months, and watching them can bring a moment of calm and perspective to a hectic life. It doesn't have to take long - just carve out one hour to wander through a wooded area or explore the untrodden edges of a city park. Enjoy nature for a short time, and you will find yourself refreshed and ready to take on the civilized world once again!
6. Carve (or just decorate) a pumpkin.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CARVE A PUMPKIN.
Really, you don't.
Carving a pumpkin can be a messy, kind-of-gross prospect. I know a few folks who can't stand delving their hands into the inner guts of a pumpkin, and therefore opt out of this fun fall tradition. But as it turns out - you don't actually have to open a pumpkin up to make it beautiful! Furthermore, it doesn't even have to be a pumpkin. Really! It can be a squash. Or a watermelon! Check out some of the links below for non-carving ideas, non-pumpkin ideas, and unusual carving ideas (if you're like me and LOVE wiggling your fingers through pumpkin guts).
7. Learn about the history of Halloween.
Okay so Halloween is kind of a stupid holiday when you think about it. Don't get me wrong - it's my favorite holiday and I enjoy myself every year. But lately it's more of an excuse to buy and receive candy and wear silly costumes. Halloween has a rich and storied history. Learn a thing or two about it! Perhaps it will inspire you to bring some old-fashioned traditions into your modern Halloween celebration. Here are some good places to start:
8. Get cozy - make a warm winter accessory.
It's easy enough to buy a scarf or a pair of mittens at the store. But this year, if you haven't already, plan on making something yourself. If you're a knitter or crocheter, you already know you can turn a long piece of string into something cozy and warm to wear. But if you're not - if, in fact, you wouldn't be caught dead with a pair of needles or a hook in your hand - you still have options. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Sweater Hat (META LINK - post includes links to tutorials)
9. Face a fear.
With October comes Halloween, and with Halloween comes scary movies, haunted houses, ghost stories, and other delightfully frightening things. Pick something that you're scared of, and face it. Watch a movie that gave you nightmares as a kid. Learn about cockroaches so you have a better understanding of the little beasties when they show up in your house. Go to the zoo and spend some time in the reptile house or the spider exhibit so you can get close without touching. Approach your fears with curiosity. Research them, learn about them, and try to understand why they bring you fear. Give yourself the chills on purpose. Take deep breaths. Then celebrate. Even if you're still afraid of the thing afterwards, facing a fear deliberately can be an extremely healthy and strengthening experience.
10. Reflect and be grateful.
I know, Thanksgiving is still over a month away. But chances are, you had a crazy summer like I did, and the coming of fall has strange but lovely implications: the changing leaves represent beautiful and graceful aging; the coming of chilly breezes and shorter days represent the distancing of the sun from our place on the earth; snow (if you live in a place that gets snow) represents a part of the water cycle that is both fascinating and beautiful. Think about your place in the world. Think about all the things happening around you that make autumn exist. Count how many times you've seen this season come around. Try to remember your favorite fall memories, and plan to create new ones this year. Look at your family (blood-related or chosen) and think about their lives as well. We are alive, despite the constant turning of the seasons. We have adapted and evolved to survive the sometimes very intense changes that occur between summer and winter. Be grateful - not just for the things you have in your personal life, but for the fact that human beings have come so far, and endured so much, to arrive at this one place at this one moment in time. Let yourself exist, simply and mindfully, in your tiny part of the big picture, and let gratitude and awareness wash over you. You have the ability to love, to feel joy, and to overcome pain. That is a truly incredible gift and one which was not easily won. Pray, if that's what you like. Meditate, if that's your thing. Or just sit and ponder. You exist, right here and right now, and that is an amazing gift.
Happy October, everybody! I hope you have a beautiful and amazing month!