Hello October!

It was a pretty ride into school, on this first day of October.

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Signs of the season are all around…like this wild apple tree, loaded with fruit, that I spotted alongside the road I drive to work.

imageSomething must have been going on in the Amish community near my school, because this buggy was one of four I saw in the span of less than 10 minutes this morning.

The sun didn’t stay for long, but I’m looking forward to the cooler days and nights, perfect for tea, the pumpkins and mums on the porch, and the golden and red-burnished leaves of the maples and oaks all around.

How about you – what do you love about October? 🙂

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Pumpkin Stand

imageIt’s that time of year again…pumpkin stand time! I love seeing places like the one pictured as I drive back and forth to work – regular homes in the country – who put out their surplus of pumpkins for sale to anyone who wants to stop and put their money in the bucket.

It’s all done through an honor system, which I love as well. I’ve lived in or near the country all my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the glamour, shopping, and entertainments more metropolitan areas can offer. I’m definitely a Country Mouse! 🙂country mouse

Happiness on a Cool Autumn Morning

As I’ve shared before, I love autumn in Upstate New York. It’s been my favorite time of year for as long as I can remember.

imageToday, “Happiness” is the cooler morning air and the chance to use the cinnamon and clove stuffed teacup rest my mother gave me as a gift, to hold my oversized autumn mug filled with a double dose of steaming, honey-sweetened “Pumpkin Spice Chai” Tazo Tea.image

The simple pleasures mean so much in a busy, time-driven life, and this is one of my favorite ways to just stop for a minute and breathe. ❤

What are some of yours? Please share in the comments (I’m always looking for new ways to decompress for a few minutes!)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving

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A practice run, with a Thanksgiving-style lunch

Some of you who have been here a while have probably figured out that I like to get into the various seasons. This often includes decorating.

Since Thanksgiving (and autumn in general) is my favorite holiday, I tend to do almost as much in-house decorating as I do for Christmas (I’m sure some posts about that will be forthcoming in the next month). 🙂

The picture above is from a week and a half ago, when my sister -in-law and her friend, my older daughter and her fiancé, and myself and my husband had lunch before my younger daughter’s performance as Ursula in The Little Mermaid at our local community theater.

Because I won’t see my sister-in-law on the actual holiday, and she was feeling down, as this will be her first year without her husband, who passed away unexpectedly in May, I decided to throw an impromptu “Thanksgiving luncheon” and do a little decorating. A kind of “special occasion” meal.

imageA couple years ago, I purchased these plates (because they were on sale, and I was finally getting a chance to host thanksgiving dinner for the first time, after years of traveling to either my parent’s home or my in-law’s home for the celebration).

 

 

The way I will always remember Pa 2 and family dinnersIn fact, this picture is of the last Thanksgiving I celebrated at the homestead, with my father at the head of the table. It was the year before he died, and this happy scene is one of the ways I will always fondly remember him. This is pretty much what our table looked like most nights, in terms of people around it, when I was growing up, and my father was always the warm, steady, strong center of our large and lively family of girls (with a few males thrown in, eventually, as we brought home beaus or married). Another picture similar to this one is featured in Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven (which has  around 20 photos that are related to and sometimes inspired the novel’s scenes sprinkled throughout), so if any of you end up getting a copy of the book when it comes out, you can see if you find it. 🙂

Anyway, back to the reason for this post. Is there anyone else out there who just enjoys putting on a fancy meal once in a while – not where the food is necessarily fancy, but where you like to set a pretty table, or have things just look extra nice?

I’m hoping that maybe there are a few of you out in blog-land who have opinions about this one way or the other. So please share in the comments.

I’ll be sharing about something else that many find a little weird, in regards to how I prepare my turkey, in a future post, so stay-tuned! 🙂

Gobble, Gobble!

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painting called “Snow and Bluster Turkeys” by Persis Clayton Weirs

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Thanksgiving by Norman Rockwell

I love turkeys…I like seeing them on my drive to work, where they will often be in a field, like pictured above, gathered in a flock and pecking for leftover grains in the farmer’s harvested fields.

They’re taking the spotlight in today’s blog post, since  we’re fast coming up on the quintessentially American holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s a time of family gatherings, reminiscing, stories, laughter, and, of course, eating. 🙂 Turkeys are often at the center of that part of the celebration for most.

 

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“turkey” flower arrangement

Last weekend, my sister-in-law drove the two hour distance between our houses to go to one of the community theater performances of the “Little Mermaid” musical my daughter has a lead role in, as Ursula, The Sea Witch. Because we’re getting near to Thanksgiving, she brought with her a little gift for our mantel – a floral arrangement that looks to me (and looked to her when she purchased it) like a cross between an adorable, plump hedge hog and a turkey. It’s really cute…a little turkey whose body is make from a fat, round flower, with added fluffy  “pipe-cleaners for the tail and beak, a fuzzy foam ball for the head, and glued on “eyes”.

Clever, don’t you think?

 

Some “Cozy” Images of a Favorite Holiday

Vintage-Thanksgiving-Dinner-CardI think I’ve already said I love Thanksgiving as a holiday best of all. Now, the “fictions” that have built, perhaps, over the way it began are a little different, and I’m not going to get into that in this post. I’m talking for now about what the American Thanksgiving holiday has come to be and represent.

It focuses on one of my favorite qualities (Gratitude!) that I’ve been trying to make a more concerted effort to recognize and pay attention to in this life that (as is also true for many of you, I’m sure) has become very busy, work-packed, and sometimes complex in challenging ways.

It’s a day set aside to spend with people you love, eating delicious food, without expectation of giving or getting material presents. There are plenty of intangible gifts given, however, in memories, shared humor, love, and friendship, and to me, those are the best kind. 🙂

thankgiving 1 thanksgivingHere are a couple more images I like for their “coziness” factor. I’ll be a posting a few more in the coming week or two, but for now, since my busy life dictates I have to run to the auto dealer and get some service done on my vehicle, I have to dash and dream of a couple weeks from now and the happy day of Thanksgiving.

If you are from a different area of the world, do you have any holidays that are similar to America’s Thanksgiving holiday? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, if you do!

Tom The Turkey And Thanksgiving Traditions

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Tom Turkey From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I may have already mentioned it, but it bears repeating, LOL.

Among other favorite things about the day is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And my favorite parade “float” is Tom the Turkey.

There is just something about him – the colors, the old-fashioned feel of the float, or maybe even because he debuted for the first time in 1971, when I was first old enough to watch and remember what I saw – but he makes me happy.

In my family growing up, my parents (who were big on little traditions or rituals, if you haven’t been here long enough to have read some of those posts) had some for Thanksgivibg as well.  One ritual we observed faithfully each Thanksgiving morning, was the watching of the Macy’s Day Parade while eating bowls of grapes.

Yes, I know that sounds a little strange, but here’s the thing: in the 1970’s when I was a kid, we had a big family, plenty of food and clothing (almost all of it homemade) and books, but not much extra for more expensive “treats”. Apples and bananas were reasonably-priced back then, but not so much grapes. So that was what we looked forward to while we watched the parade. Oh, and tangerines, because they were also “in season” and more reasonably-priced.

Some of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving revolve around this tradition. My mother would have gotten up very early, around 4:00am, to saute the onions and celery in butter, that were to go in the sage dressing with which she’d stuff and sew up the neck and big cavity of the turkey (it was usually a 20-pounder at least, and she used a big darning needle and cotton thread….a process I still use myself when preparing turkey). The result was that the house smelled delicious by the time the parade began at 9:00 or so.

I can remember sitting on the old sofa with several of the younger of my sisters around the living room, and Pa in his chair, while Ma and my older sisters came in and out as they worked on other tasks to get ready for the big meal. The picture window would have steam from all the cooking, and the lovely scent of sautéed onion and celery, sage and turkey, simply filled the air. We all ate our grapes and tangerines and enjoyed the show. The Rockettes were another favorite, as well. But we always turned off the parade BEFORE Santa Claus came in…because we also had the tradition of no Christmas music, decorations, or discussion until December 1 at earliest! In hindsight, I think it was a great idea. Time and the seasons get rushed far too often as it is. But as a child, it took some fortitude to follow the “rules”. 🙂

My own kids still follow the same traditions, and they enjoy them almost as much as I did (though they get to have grapes a lot more frequently in this modern age!)

So, those are a few of my traditions. Anyone have any of their own to share?

Simple Gratitude

image“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”
~Henry David Thoreau

Autumn Decorating

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My mantel, decorated for autumn…the candles – and angel candleholders – work for Christmas, too, so I get a lot of mileage out of them 🙂

I used to only go all out decorating inside the house for Christmas.

But more recently, I’ve brought my love of Autumn indoors and a few years ago, purchased some leaf garlands, wreaths, and candle tapers in appropriate hues. Sometimes I get them out before Halloween, and other times, like this year, they don’t make it onto mantels and walls until the beginning of November.

I can’t help wondering how many others like to decorate for autumn in their homes. There must be some, otherwise, the stores wouldn’t carry the items I’ve found. But I only know one other person, personally, who does this kind of thing. I hope I’m not too weird (but I’m afraid it’s pretty likely that I am…and for more reasons than just my decorating proclivities!). 🙂

pumpkinsI’ve gone to the store to buy ceramic, composite, and otherwise formed and decorated “harvest” pumpkins (the darker orange one of these, from Big Lots, is on my dining room table on an autumn table-runner as a centerpiece at the moment)…

 

harvestAbout five years ago, I even picked up some “Pilgrim” figurines at the grocery store that are similar to these. These are a little more ornate, but they’re made of similar composite (not plastic but not ceramic either) material that makes them not too easily breakable (important when you have cats that chase each other and sometimes knock things over).

So now my house is all decked out for Thanksgiving, which I guess is a good thing, since I’m cooking again this year, and there will be at least six – and maybe ten – at the table. It’s my favorite holiday, though, so I can’t wait.

How about you – other than the traditional Christmas/Hanukkah times, do you like to bring any of the seasons indoors?