Friday, October 31, 2014

A new view of Halloween

The candy is in the bowl. The porch is even a little festive. (Thank you, Pinterest!)

We are ready for the trick-or-treaters!

(Author's Nov. 1 update: We had seven trick-or-treaters, including four teenagers in halfhearted costumes. The porch garland was too scary.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To the pumpkin patch

On the last weekend before Halloween, it seemed like a very good idea to head to a pumpkin patch.

Nathalia and her baby and I got in the car and traveled about 45 minutes outside Washington, D.C., a region that segues from urban to rural amazingly rapidly. We arrived at the orchard and pumpkin patch, and as soon as we got out of the car and started walking, we realized that we were going to have stunning, idyllic fall weather for our little adventure.

We declined a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch and instead wandered over there through the apple orchards.

We wanted just a handful of apples, and they were easy to find once we got farther into the rows of trees.

And then we found the pumpkin patch!

We took ten million a few photos here. Not surprisingly, I loved the orange pumpkins and blue sky together. I also loved baby girl's pumpkin-themed outfit (and snapping some pictures of mother and daughter).

I held the baby while her mama looked for a pumpkin.

Then we just decided to pick a pumpkin back at the entrance, where there were beautiful piles of all kinds of pumpkins.

And Nathalia found the perfect (and oddly hollow) pumpkin!

We meandered around to see the farm animals (baby was fascinated by the llama!), bought the pumpkin, four apples and some apple cider, and shared a caramel apple before heading home. I already love this memory with my friend and her daughter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Garden surprises

I'm back from a weekend with my friends and their baby girl, and I am so grateful for the visit—and to finally meet the baby! (More details—and pictures—to come later this week.)

Yesterday I finally returned to my garden plot to clean it out for the year. Most of my plants are done for the season, but my Swiss chard is just starting to ramp up (and oddly so are the poblano peppers). I transplanted my rosemary and sage plants into pots to bring back to the house and left the chard and peppers to see what happens.

Some plots are ready for winter; others are thriving with fall batches of lettuce and chard and broccoli. My favorite sight: a few handfuls of tiny tomatoes, ripening in rainbow fashion, hanging on my neighbor's fence like strings of lights.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Now boarding

I'm heading to the Washington, D.C. area for the weekend!

The last time I was here, in the winter, my dear friend Nathalia was pregnant (and the whole city was digging out from a big snowfall). Now there is a baby girl I need to meet! I know our plans include cheering on Nat's husband as he runs the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, but beyond that I anticipate lots of time just catching up with the new parents and their baby girl.

I like being intentional about what books I pair with travel destinations, so for my flight, I've got the fascinating-so-far Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies, by a longtime White House chief usher.

I'm looking forward to seeing the city in the autumn and spending time with great friends.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A fresh coat

This evening's project: finishing the fresh coat of paint on the front porch that I started applying yesterday. The previous owners left a gallon of the Tile Red shade they'd used on the porch in the past, so I decided to go for it while the weather was so lovely. I began with the front steps last week and moved on to the porch itself yesterday.

I think this is the last painting project—for the time being, anyway!

Now that the fresh coat is finished and drying: World Series Game 1 and more Ella Enchanted.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend update

Saturday morning seems like a long time ago!

Yesterday my mom came over to help with some house projects. While Josh was tackling his own set of house-related projects, Mom helped me prepare the vegetable garden area for winter and plant some tulip and crocus bulbs for spring. I already can't wait to see them bloom in a few months.

Then we shifted full-speed into painting. (This was the second round of painting - on move-in weekend, Mom and I worked on the kitchen and guest bedroom.) First: the dining room, which we changed from a rich, bright yellow to Butter Up, a more mellow yellow. Mom is both a strong and merry painter, which is a marvelous combination. She makes painting fun, and she makes it look easy. We are so grateful.

In between two quick coats on the dining room walls, we turned our attention to the basement wall I wanted to paint. In hopes of pulling out one particular shade of orange from the basement rug, I had tested samples of four shades of paint on the green wall before deciding on Autumn Haze. Mom did most of the first two coats, and then I topped it off with a third coat today.

Then: back upstairs to finish the dining room. Later, I put away the rest of the boxes and cleared off the table. The dining room is done!

This weekend wasn't just house projects, though. Yesterday Josh and I attended the beautiful wedding of a friend who I've known for almost 15 years (!), and it was so nice to celebrate my friend and her new husband and get a chance to catch up with some of my other friends from high school.

Today continued the streak of stunning fall weather in Minnesota, and we went for a leisurely walk around the neighborhood. Because of how our work schedules overlap, Josh and I are typically solo on our walks with Wish, so I loved today's stroll.

And Tennessee did not manage to upset Ole Miss yesterday, but we're closing out the weekend with what looks to be shaping up to be a good Broncos win. I'm looking forward to the week ahead.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The back porch

Our back porch is one of my favorite places in our new home.

We liked it in the photos online before we even walked through the house, and we moved the little couch, a futon, and the dining room set onto the porch as soon as we moved in. I had plans to eat breakfast there all the time, but during a stretch of cooler weather this month, I didn't spend many mornings out there. We may need to get a little heater eventually, I think, to really maximize at least three seasons of use. But sunlight streams into the room later in the day, and as soon as the first touch of afternoon sun hits the space, it warms up beautifully. (It will be a good spot for a weekend afternoon nap.)

This morning, I peeked my head into the porch and was surprised and happy to find it warm enough to bring my breakfast and Kindle out there. (Wish also loves this room because of the view outside, especially when I pop open a window to let in a breeze, so he trots in whenever we do.)

And then the light started to change, and I liked it even more!

I'm looking forward to plenty of mornings on this porch—maybe, maybe even year-round!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bright leaves

Being outside today was splendid: warm, sunny, and with brilliant fall colors. I am very glad I was toting my camera on my walks. This year's leaves are especially magnificent.

After work, I took Wish for a long walk around our new neighborhood (during which I spotted another Keeshond out for a stroll!!) and then sat on our porch and finished reading Looking for Alaska. I love this season.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Back to books

Two weeks after moving into our new home, we are mostly done with the initial phase of unpacking—literally, the unpacking of boxes—and are more focused now on actually setting up rooms. It's tempting to jump around from project to project, so I scribbled down a To Do list to focus on one task at a time, which has been so helpful. Between the progress on that little list with the process of setting up a cozy reading nook last week, I realized I haven't sat down to read a book in our new house yet!

Now it's time to get back to my books. Over the weekend I reserved and downloaded a figurative pile of library books for my Kindle:

Per recommendations:
Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine)
Attachments (Rainbow Rowell)
Looking for Alaska (John Green)
Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)

Stumbled across while browsing:
Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo)
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (Ben Bradlee, Jr.)
Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies (J.B. West)

And two more for good measure:
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), because I haven't read it in ages
The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), because Josh and I listened to part of it as an audiobook and didn't finish, for no good reason

It's not likely that my name will reach the top of the reservation lists all at once, so I really hope I get to read them all. (And you know I love to hear recommendations based on what you're reading. Share, if you'd like!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Leaves upon leaves

This afternoon I meandered down to that beloved Shadow Falls trail, which follows a tiny stream over to the actual Shadow Falls above the Mississippi River.

My view when I looked up:

And one of my views when I looked down:

My pace was sure not setting any personal records today, but it was one of my favorite runs in a long time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A visit to the garden

My mom came over to help us with some yard work last night (read: teach us how to do yard work) and our hydrangea bushes (among other areas around the yard) are now ready for colder weather. We also cleared out the raised bed that will turn into my vegetable garden come spring. (Many, many thanks to Mom!)

All of this reminded me that I needed to spend some time at my original little garden plot, so after work today, I headed over there.

With a couple of frosts on record in St. Paul already, it's not surprising that the garden is fading. I think this flower captured the feeling gracefully.

I collected a few green tomatoes and cleared out a couple of the tomato plants, but I need to go back this weekend to finish cleaning up and transplant some of the herbs into pots to keep at the house.

We've been spending most of our evenings lately unpacking and assembling the rooms in our home, and I hadn't visited the garden in ages, so it was nice take a few leisurely minutes outside today in the sun. Also, the clouds today were magnificent.

I'll miss my little garden plot this winter but am excited for more garden adventures in the yard next year.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Looking up

After a wonderful weekend of volunteering at the Twin Cities Marathon (and feeling wholeheartedly inspired and energized by the community of runners, spectators, volunteers and staff around me), I was back to work today. I went for a walk at lunch, and it was one of those strolls where I was looking up the whole time.

Miles and Laurel has been short on leaf pictures so far this season, but I'll make up lost ground in the days and weeks ahead. It's beautiful around here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The finish line

Today started out brisk, cloudy, and windy for the day's races leading up to tomorrow's 10-mile and marathon. (My brother raced the 5K this morning wearing a winter hat!) Over the course of the morning, the sun started to peek out. I was ambling back to my car just before noon, and I turned around to look back at the finish line and saw the prettiest view.

The runners will like this sight tomorrow, too. I'm so proud of them already.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Tonight, after Josh and I unloaded a Craigslist purchase from our car, I looked at the pile of boxes lining our dining room wall and instead flopped onto the couch to watch playoff baseball. Josh wasn't home at that time - but I still had company.

But now said company has run off into the guest bedroom, one of his favorite places in our new house, and I'm about to browse some magazines that seem to be filled with fall-themed project ideas. Twin Cities Marathon weekend kicks off tomorrow afternoon (I'm volunteering, not running!) and I'll enjoy this evening at home before those wonderful festivities begin.