A few Fall favorites...and a lot of pumpkin spice! 

A few Fall favorites…and a lot of pumpkin spice! 

So, it was the first day of Autumn a few days ago. How did you celebrate the first day of this great season?  On the eve of Autumn I went on a walk with my little family, and fall was definitely in the air. Sweaters were a must, the air was crisp, and everything pumpkin was on my mind. The weather the next morning didn’t disappoint either. It was the perfect fall morning. However, the warm weather returned quickly and we couldn’t jump into our fall wardrobe quite yet.  The last couple weeks here in Fremont have been some of the hottest of the year, so I am definitely ready for that cooler weather to roll in. Along with the weather come so many other wonderful things with fall.  Within the last couple weeks, my newsfeed has been filled with talk and pictures of the long awaited, Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now, I don’t mind an occasional PSL (half the flavor pumps), but I typically enjoy sticking with my cup of black…and for the fall season, sprinkling a little cinnamon on top. I know boring, right? However, I am branching out and trying a new twist on the Pumpkin Spice drink. Keep reading to see if the recipes were a Yay or a Nay!  But in the meantime, you guys enjoy those Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I am truly happy for you!

But, all this talk of fall got me thinking about the season and some of my favorites.

Being in sunny Cali doesn’t stop me from fully embracing fall. I decorate fall. I cook fall, I dress fall. I love fall.  With our anniversary only a few weeks away, I have been reminiscing about all the beautiful colors that were present on our wedding day. I knew I always wanted to be married during this beautiful season, so I’m thankful my dream came true. Growing up in Michigan, the colors each year were breathtaking. Reds, Oranges, Purples, Browns…all so beautifully woven together to create a picturesque display of God’s amazing creation. The crisp air in your face, the sun over your head, the colors all around…it’s just perfect. So,  I thought I would share just a few of my favorites for the fall season. I’ll start with sharing a couple pictures from our wedding, just because I can’t get over how beautiful the colors were on that Michigan day.

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Let me first jump into food. Good food is a highlight of the fall season. Chilis, soups, sweet breads…they’re all so comforting and delicious, especially when shared among family and friends.

Here is one of my favorite fall recipes: Cavatappi Pasta with Sausage and Butternut Squash

20 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Olive oil
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
8 ounces cavatappi pasta
4 links chicken sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped white onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp sage
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 425 F.  On a large baking sheet, toss together butternut squash, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook sausage until browned on both sides.  Transfer to a large bowl and cover with aluminum foil.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and add onion and garlic.  Stir and let saute for 3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper and stir to pick up the browned bits from the sausage.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, flour and sage.  Slowly add this to the saute pan, stirring continuously.  Let cook for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Add sauce to the sausage in the big bowl.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain it and add it to the large bowl.  When the squash is cooked, add it directly to the big bowl.  Stir all of the ingredients together.  In a small bowl, combine blue cheese, walnuts and dried cranberries.  Transfer pasta to a serving bowl and sprinkle with toppings. Enjoy!

Pasta

A favorite fall snack of mine comes from Trader Joe’s! These crackers are only available seasonally, so stock up now if you love them! They are the Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps and they are so good!

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I love to eat them with the creamy goat cheese from Trader Joes.

Fall wouldn’t be complete without a trip to an apple orchard where you can indulge in some apple cider donuts! This is an absolute favorite of mine to do with family and friends. Having just moved to CA, last year we experienced a new place to visit called Apple Hill, where we enjoyed several of these donuts, some apple cider, and some homemade berry pies to take home for the holidays. We enjoyed fellowshipping with some old friends from college who live about an hour from us.

 

Ok, Now let me talk about my Pumpkin Spice Drink experiments. This is where I need your help. I was so excited to make a Pumpkin Pie Shakeology shake. However, I only have the chocolate shakeology right now and unfortunately it didn’t turn out that great. I definitely think the pumpkin pie can be done with the chocolate, but my ratios were way off–I added too much ice, not enough liquid, etc…and the chocolate just overpowered all the other flavors. But, all my shakeology friends out there, if you try it and it works for you, let me know what you did differently! I have decided that I prefer the vanilla shakeology over the chocolate, and plan to try the Pumpkin Pie recipe with the vanilla. I think it will turn out really well! So, if you’re interested in those recipes, you can click here to try them.

The second pumpkin spice drink I experimented with was a healthier, homemade version of the pumpkin spice latte. The recipe is here. Unfortunately, mine didn’t turn out very well. I had high hopes, but I think there were several things that went wrong. I added too much pumpkin pie spice, and not enough almond milk. My milk mixture didn’t get frothy and I couldn’t bare to drink more than two sips of it. So, clearly I need some suggestions of what are good pumpkin spice drinks! I am not a fan of Starbucks (I know—sorry everyone!), and their drinks are so fattening and full of sugar that I would love to have a good, go to recipe for the fall season. So leave me a comment if you have a good suggestion!

Moving on to wardrobe. Fall is the time we love to start pulling out all of our sweaters, scarfs, and boots. I don’t like to spend a lot on clothes, but sometimes it’s good to invest in a nice piece that you keep going back to over and over again. For me, it’s the sweater dress. Now, not all of these styles work well with my body shape, so I was excited when this one from REI fit me well and was really comfortable. Since my husband works at REI, he was able to get a really good discount too, so that was a plus! I never thought REI sold any cute clothes…I thought it was just stuff like, you know, climbing and hiking pants, and ugly athletic wear…but I was pleasantly surprised! Check them out next time you’re near one.  This is a Prana brand dress, very versatile, and can be worn for all sorts of occasions! It also has a hood that can be worn when it gets even chillier outside.

Dress from REI

Oh, and by the way, while we’re talking about Pumpkin Spice, I went ahead and gave myself a Pumpkin Spice manicure! That’s right, a fall manicure–another favorite.  Along with our normal amazing nail wraps, Jamberry has a whole new gel line that is amazing! Feel free to check it out here.

(Yes, a shameless plug for my business. (Really, I just love the products, and you might too)  Take it or leave it, and I’ll still love you all)

Dress Looking Down

 

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Fall wouldn’t be complete in our home without a few fall decorations. Since we live in a pretty small place, I limit my decorations, but add just enough to get that fall feel.

One of my favorite things to do each year is make my own wreath for the front door. I was so surprised how expensive wreaths were, so I grabbed a few supplies and looked at a few tutorials and made my own. Plus, when you make your own you can add your own touches and personal style to it. For a lot cheaper! This is the wreath I made two  years ago:

 

Wreath from Bmore

It required a lot of burlap, but I knew I would re-use the burlap again for future craft projects. A wreath tutorial similar to this can be found on Pinterest or anywhere online. I also watched a youtube video on how to make my own bow.

This year, I spent a solid 10 minutes making this one, and loved how it turned out.

 

I didn’t follow any guide with this one, I just started filling it in with some of the supplies I always have on hand.  One thing I love about this wreath is that I added some real waxed fall leaves that were used in our wedding decor 7 years ago! You can see them down at the bottom right side.  I’m so glad I saved a few of those leaves and love how it adds a personal touch to something so simple.

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These are just a few of my favorite things about the fall season. But more than pumpkin spice drinks and sweater dresses, it’s the memories that I’m making with the people I love.  And fall is a great time to make memories. Encouraging chats around a fire pit, apple picking with friends, yummy food and pretty decorations…It’s about creating a comforting and memorable experience that you can look back on and smile, because they are all gifts from God. Happy Fall.

This is Joy Under the Sun