Writing Toward Home

Writing , Ideas, and Encouragement

Month: October 2017

Fall Is Here!

Fall Hill

View from my front porch

 

 

Fall is Here!

( A Fall song, to the tune of “Three Blind Mice”)

Fall is here!

Fall is here!

See how the leaves

fall from the trees.

The leaves turn yellow

and red and brown.

They fall so slowly to the ground.

The boys and girls

dance around,

‘cause fall is here!

 

Every autumn for over 25 years I taught that song to the children in my primary classroom. The children loved the song and the sign language and gestures I taught them to go with it. There’s no telling how many times I sang that little tune, but it definitely carved a permanent pathway in my brain. When the first leaves begin to turn I still find that song twirling around in my head. This morning as I walked the dog along our dusty mountain road I realized I was humming, “Fall is Here!” while my eyes feasted on the colors of the foliage all along our path.

 

Fall is my favorite season. I love watching the trees change color and the leaves swirl as they blow in the wind. I love scuffing my feet through the crackling piles that gather along the roadsides. Nature turns out a show-stopping color extravaganza as her finale before the hiatus of winter.

 

When I was teaching, fall was such a busy time of year that I often didn’t get a chance to enjoy it properly. My attention was occupied with lesson plans, report cards, and other school related tasks. When I lived in south Florida for four years, I missed Autumn terribly. My mother would send me large manila envelopes filled with red, yellow and orange leaves. I would inhale their musty, tangy scent and then scatter them on the floor to crunch under my feet.

Fall River

Now I am fortunate enough to have the time and the right place to observe the subtle changes daily. In the last week I have watched from my front porch and yard as fall crept down the surrounding mountains and into the river valley below. The yellows have been prominent, but now the reds and oranges are beginning to appear. It is so lovely and I can enjoy it all day long.

 

To me, fall is a contemplative time of year- looking back on the busy days of summer and anticipating the long winter evenings of quieter pursuits. It is a time of planning and preparation: stocking the pantry and freezer, making thick stews and soups, baking hearty breads and apple and pumpkin flavored goodies. It is putting away the t-shirts and digging out the sweaters and blankets.

 

There’s a soft rain falling and a pleasant cool breeze as I sit on my front porch with my mug of Earl Grey tea. I have beef vegetable soup ( recipe below) bubbling in the slow cooker on the kitchen counter. Later I will make corn muffins to go with it for supper.

 

There’s a pair of bluejays calling from my apple tree and cardinals at the bird feeder. The hummingbird feeder now sits idle; the summer-time feeding frenzy is over for another season. The ladybugs are clustered by the dozens on my porch, stoop, and threshold, no doubt plotting an invasion to the cozy corners of our cabin.

 

Yes, fall is here, in all her glory. I remind myself to take it all in, to watch, to sit in this season, with all of its good gifts. There are holidays and festivals to enjoy, pumpkin bread to bake and eat, and memories to make. Happy fall! Fall is here!

pumpkins-1708769_1920

A Recipe

I love reading cookbooks, novels that contain recipes, food memoirs, and cooking blogs. I know I am not alone in this habit, as food blogs are some of the most popular sites on the Internet. I subscribe to several and always look forward to their weekly or daily posts. I love to cook and I seek out new recipes to try. My personal goal is to make at least two new recipes for dinner each month. Some are added to my repertoire, while others are a one-time attempt. I especially like slow cooker recipes since I can prepare the food, plug it in and then go about my day. I appreciate folks who generously share their go-to time-saving meals.

 

In that spirit I am sharing my recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Vegetable Soup for anyone who might be interested. This is one of the meals in the fall and winter “rotation” as my husband calls it.

 

Soup

1 pound lean stew beef cut into 1-inch chunks

4 cups small red potatoes cut into fourths

1 small onion, chopped.

32 oz. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained

1 can diced Italian style tomatoes ( I use the no salt added variety)

1 32 oz. container beef stock ( I use the no salt added variety)

2 Tbsp minced garlic

2 bay leaves

1tsp cumin

1tsp coriander

1tsp garlic powder

1tsp. onion powder

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp rosemary

1tsp. Italian seasoning.

2 TBsp Seasoned salt. ( optional. If you choose to omit this, add more, to taste, of other seasonings)

2-4 cups water.

 

 

Place beef chunks in a bowl and add ½  each of the cumin, pepper, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder and seasoned salt. Toss to coat.

 

In a skillet brown the beef on all sides in 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Place meat in bottom of slow cooker.

Add potatoes, vegetables, beans, and tomatoes to the slow cooker.

Pour beef stock into a bowl and stir in remaining dried spices, minced garlic, and bay leaves. Add mixture to slow cooker.

Add 2-4 cups of water to cover ingredients.

Cook on high for 5- 6 hours or low for 8-9, until potatoes are done but not too soft.

Serve with corn muffins. or a hearty loaf of homemade bread.

 

This soup will keep in the fridge for 4 days. We actually think it tastes better the second day.

What do you love about fall?

Do you have any recipes to share?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty in Thirty Day 30

Thirty in Thirty Day 30        10 things I Learned

I made it! I challenged  myself to write and post  on my blog every day for the month of September as a way to jump-start my writing practice after several months away from it.

Here’s what I learned:

 

1.    I love and need to write. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I started doing it every day. Writing keeps me centered and is a much-needed outlet for my restless “monkey-mind.”

2.    I need more structure than I realized. I thought I could be somewhat casual about my writing schedule and things would happen when I was ready. Nope. Knowing I had to write and post every day kept me thinking about writing all day. Plus it got me up to my studio and in my chair where the work could take place.

 

3.    I can make time to write every day.  It has to be a priority.

4.    I can write under pressure. No waiting around for the “muse” to show up. I had to be at my desk and let her find me already at work. Knowing I needed to write something every day helped me generate more ideas.

5.    I like to write a lot of different things. I used the month to experiment with various genres and formats: fantasy, realistic fiction, essays, memoir, and even some poetry. Some were easier and more successful than others, but I enjoyed trying my hand at all of it.

6.    I have a hard time following rules when it comes to writing. I like writing to prompts when they spark an idea, but sometimes they are too restrictive. After about a week and a half of writing to the prompts provided I had to go my own way and just write what I wanted.

7.    I like having an audience for my work. I have written for years and have notebooks filled with stories, but most have them have never been shared with anyone. I enjoyed putting my work out and knowing someone is reading it.  It is a bit intimidating to do, but it got easier as the month went on.

8.    I need to be more organized with my work. I need to figure out a better system for keeping track of my ideas and stories. I will not be using Excel since spreadsheets send me over the edge, but I need something I can use effectively.

 

9.    I want to try another writing challenge. I am thinking of doing NANOWRIMO again. This challenge involves writing an entire novel ( approx. 50,00 words) in the month of November. I did that four years ago.

10.  I am ready to get back to working on one project at a time. I allowed myself to jump from one thing to another this month. Now that I have lots of beginnings and ideas, I want to pursue one until it is a shiny finished project.

If you stuck around all month, I appreciate it.

Thanks to all of you who offered feedback. It is gratifying when someone takes the time to make a comment.

I will be back to posting once a week.  Again, Merci!

 

 

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