A snack mix with a twist, comforting soup, cozy blankets, a festive tablecloth, and more!
Today I am sharing a grab-bag of easy ways to add fun, comfort, and beauty to your home this fall.
And at the end, some thoughts on the horrific mass shooting which took place in Lewiston, Maine earlier this week.
Because I can’t be Molly in Maine and not write about what happened.
Let’s get to it!
The Great Pumpkin Wall
Do you have a wall or fence in your yard? A shed or greenhouse?
Then I say pile on the pumpkins!
Every fall I line the stone wall between the lawn and our field with pumpkins. This year there are 21!
I love it when, going about my day, I catch a pop of bright orange out the window.
And it is so great to pull down the driveway and see them stretched out on the curve of stone.
Where could you create your own Charlie Brown pumpkin display?!
Also, it’s not too late — I keep the pumpkins out through Thanksgiving!
It is still a beautiful time of year to enjoy the great outdoors.
In fact, the best weather for gathering around the fire pit is when there is a nip in the air.
Grab some snuggly blankets, comfy pillows, and a hot drink and just relax or spend time with friends and family.
And with Halloween just around the corner, I would say a ghost story or two might be in order!
I know that we will be enjoying our beautiful hand-crafted reinforced cement Moderno fire bowl from Prism Hardscapes well into the winter!
If you also like to dine al fresco in the fall, you won’t want to miss my post An Outdoor Harvest Table Set With Fall’s Bounty.
Fall is the start of snuggly blanket season here in Maine!
Some of my favorite blankets are those from Chappy Wrap. With their fun jacquard-woven designs made out of a unique cotton-blend, these blankets are super soft and durable. Read all about what makes Chappy Wraps so special!
Why shouldn’t Maddie and Cisco also enjoy all this plush goodness?!
Now they can, with Chappy Wrap’s new pup-themed blankets! You can even personalize them with your buddy’s name.
I chose the Good Boy Gingham pattern for Cisco and the Windowpane Woof Khaki for Mads. I have them draped over M&C’s favorite swivel chairs, making cozy little nests and keeping the slipcovers clean too!
You might wonder — does Maddie sometimes lie on Cisco’s blanket and vice versa? Yes, yes, that does indeed happen. I haven’t been able to teach them to read yet, ha! But they do each seem to have their favorite chair — Cisco on the left and Maddie on the right.
You can shop M&C’s blankets with the links below. A Chappy Wrap larger-sized blanket is my go-to wedding gift. They have baby blankets too!
Of course I also highly recommend a cozy Chappy Wrap blanket as a gift for yourself!
A Fall Tablecloth
You know I love to add extra pattern and texture to the home this time of year.
It just makes it feel so much cozier!
A super easy way to do this is to add a patterned tablecloth to the dining room. It doesn’t need to scream fall, with pumpkins or fall leaves.
Instead, choose an organic pattern in warm autumn colors — gold, brown, rust, cranberry, orange.
I have had this Forest Harvest French tablecloth in mustard and blue from Couleur Nature for several years. It would even be pretty for a casual Thanksgiving dinner!
Read more about getting your cozy on for fall:
Soup is, for me, the ultimate comfort food. Simmering on the stove, it fills the home with the aroma of fall.
Today I am sharing my own lentil soup recipe, with two ingredients that are a little different.
Serve it with some crusty bread or focaccia. A side salad topped with pears, blue cheese, and pepitas would be tasty too!
It is vegan and chock full of nutrients!
- I recommend using French lentils, because they hold their shape better than brown or green lentils. Instead of turning to mush, they will retain a little bite.
- Use a good quality balsamic vinegar! It adds depth and a little zing to the soup.
- Be generous with the spinach, because spinach is good for you! You can also use kale, but you will have to cook it for longer.
- If desired, serve it with some grated parmigiano on top. Again, use the good stuff! Of course then it is no longer vegan, but still vegetarian!
For another of my favorite fall recipes, check out my post Easy Homemade Granola Breakfast Apple Crisp,
Candy Corn Snack Mix
I used to make this snack mix with a Halloween twist when my kids were little. I would carve out an apple and cut out eyes and a mouth, to make a little jack-o-lantern. Then I would fill it with the snack mix. So fun!
I made this for a grown-up Halloween gathering a few years ago (minus the apple jack-o-lantern), and it was very popular with adults too! Definitely a Halloween treat, but the nuts, dried fruit, and cereal make it at least a little healthy.
I have two cookbooks to share with you this week — one old and one new.
Creepy Cuisine, by Lucy Monroe, is full of “revolting recipes that look disgusting, but taste divine”. I wouldn’t say this is fine cuisine, but it is full of fun kid-friendly recipes for the season. “Brains on the Half Skull” and “Crudites With Vomit Vinaigrette” were standard Halloween-day fare when I had young ones!
My daughter Zoë is a huge fan of cook, recipe developer, and food writer Molly Baz. Her latest cookbook More is More: Get Loose in the Kitchen” is full of fun and creative recipes.
When I visited recently, Zoë made the Lentil and Sweet Potato Pot Pie and Crispy Egg-in-a-Hole. Both delicious!
I have only flipped through the cookbook quickly, but already have my eye on the Stuffed Focaccia and the Tangled Leek ‘Za. Last night I am made Ramen Noodles with Shrooms & Soy Butter. It was a yummy comfort food.
One thing I immediately noticed that I love about this book is that Molly offers suggestions for food pairings, so it is easy to pull together a menu.
NOTE: This cookbook contains recipes that will please both vegetarians and omnivores, alike!
I am linking both cookbooks below!
This Week Into Next
I had a great trip to Chicago last weekend for my dad’s 90th birthday celebration. My dad was certainly surprised, and it was wonderful to see him and spend time with family.
As always, no matter how fun my trip was, it always feels good to come back to my life here in Maine.
But then the quiet and peace of that life were shattered on Wednesday by unimaginable violence. 18 innocent souls gone and 13 wounded in a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters just enjoying a midweek evening out with family and friends.
As I have said before, I have not lived in Maine for long (certainly by Maine standards), but to me it is home. Here, I am part of both my local and also a larger, statewide, community.
And, really, aren’t we all citizens of both national and global communities too? Shouldn’t what happens to one of us be felt on some level by all of us, as part of the greater shared human experience?
Until Wednesday, Maine — the state with the nation’s lowest violent crime rate and the motto “The Way Life Should Be” — had never endured a mass shooting tragedy on its soil.
But now it has. And I, like many Maine residents, am grappling with that new reality.
I always try to look for the beauty in an often ugly world. I believe that light overcomes darkness. That our homes should provide comfort during times of sadness. And that laughter is good for the soul.
So I continue to write about pumpkins and dog blankets, lentil soup and candy corn, beauty, comfort, and fun.
But you can be sure it is with a very heavy heart, and while also trying to wrap my mind around the senseless violence that occurred and keeping the victims, their families and friends in my thoughts.
For information on how you can donate to support those directly affected by this tragedy, see this page on the Maine Philanthropy Center’s website.
I close this week with the same words as my last post, with one small addition: Hold your loved ones tight. Take comfort in the place you call home, no matter how humble. Be grateful for the comforts we often take for granted. And always be kind.
Peace and love, friends.