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My favorite things about Fall

I love Fall.

Do you call it Fall or Autumn? I never say Autumn but I like how it’s spelled. Either way, it’s one of my most favorite times of year.

The only bad thing about Fall is that it means Winter is just a little bit closer. But, except for the snow/ice hazards and the extremely bitter cold days, I have learned to appreciate that season more as well. But let’s not jump the gun. I’m here to talk about Fall because it’s what’s almost here!

I started this post about a month ago when we had a break in our seriously hot weather. But then it got hot again and didn’t feel like the right time to be talking about Fall just yet. Even though it was 94 yesterday, it seems that the cooler weather is just about here to stay and it is almost October so I did not want to delay any further!

I’ve also been thinking about Fall a lot because I work on a college campus and once the semester finally started, the students came rolling in and the restaurants and coffee shops went back to their normal hours (read: later than 2 p.m. and places that have been closed all Summer are finally open!) and there will be other exciting events going on here between now and the Christmas break.

Most days, the mornings have been on the cool side, cool enough as my friend Carrie said “to have a cup of hot tea in the mornings again!” She’s right about that. It’s also been darker in the mornings when I go out to walk Suzie and it’s been getting darker earlier at night. As much as I do love my daylight, it’s sort of cozy when it gets dark early and that makes me want to go to bed earlier, which is a good thing for me.

I have been feeling inspired 🙂 Change is good.

Fall means a lot of things to each one of us. But I think we can all agree that it’s generally a fun time of year. Now I just thought I would share a few of my favorite things about Fall with you 🙂

1. P-U-M-P-K-I-N!

Seriously, as soon as I see this stuff, I’m stocking up again! It’s been too long!

My pantry last Fall

I like to bake with it, put it in my oatmeal, make soup with it, pumpkin dip with ginger snaps, you name it. I’m also excited about pumpkin spice tea and pumpkin flavored coffee (not the syrup but the actual coffee flavor) and anything else coffee shops, cafes  or companies come up with to entice me into trying something. If it says pumpkin on it, I will probably at least give it a second look.

2. Art fairs, charity walks, outdoor events, etc.

Such as the St. James Court Art Show!

St. James is the event that really kicks off the Fall for me and it’s just a little over 2 weeks away. It also has the most unpredictable weather! I believe this picture is from two years ago, while last year we were in shorts! You just never know 😉 But I’m kind of hoping for a chilly morning this year, just not too cold!

The Louisville Walk for Farm Animals

I am one of the co-coordinators of this year’s Walk for Farm Animals (Farm Sanctuary)  on October 22nd and I am really excited about all that we have planned! Last year, we had a decent turnout and raised a good amount of money through our walk and a bake sale that we had beforehand. I’m looking forward to topping all of that this year! If you would like to sign up to walk or donate to my walk page, click here (thanks!)

Mighty Kindness Harvest Hootenanny

The Hootenannies take place in the Fall and in the Spring (on Earth Day) and it’s another time of rather unpredictable weather. Last year’s Fall Hoot was absolutely freezing and then the Earth Day hoot this year kept a lot of people at home because of rain/storms. Hopefully this time we will have a better day. I will be working at the Louisville Vegetarian Club booth this year and I hope my friend Kristin (pictured above in the hat and sunglasses) is there selling her goods again too 🙂

Fall Road Races!

While I haven’t decided to run any races this Fall (yet), I am going to be supporting my friends Farrah (pictured above on right) and Chloe in the Louisville Marathon on October 16th! I know it sounds corny but it’s long been a dream of mine to be on the sidelines cheering for someone else 🙂 This will be the first marathon for both of them and I can’t wait to see them cross that finish line!

3. Haunted Houses and horrors!

Courtesy of Nightmare Forest Louisville

I don’t scare easily but I do tend to jump at loud noises! My husband and I love the Halloween season. Soon we’ll be busting out our collection of horror movies and lining up on a Friday night to go through some scary forest, hotel or whatever attraction we choose to visit this year. We are also big fans of the Danger Run, even though we usually end up arguing and get lost at some point. All in good fun!

4. Football (sigh…)

I'm bummed he's not playing 😦

Never in my life did I think I would include this on a list of my favorite things about Fall. But the truth is, I do enjoy watching some football. It gets overwhelming when there are several games on in a week or when my husband is in the basement yelling at a particular team and I can hear him two floors up.

He’s not the only one who does this, but I just don’t like it when people get so mad about a game that they say terrible things to a team they claim to be a fan of and they just plain ruin my good time! But most of the time, it’s enjoyable to root for your favorite teams while spending time with family and friends over some chips and salsa.

We used to host Monday Night Football at our house every year but since we just moved and aren’t quite unpacked and my husband’s work schedule is a bit unforgiving (he wakes up at 4 a.m.!) we have decided not to do it this year. I kind of miss it already but hopefully we can get some people together for a game sometime this season!

I’m sure there will be some other adventures that I’m not even aware of yet but I will leave it at that for now. We are still settling into our new house and hopefully someday I will finally sit down and do a before and after post on some of the rooms we have redone and how the place looks now that we actually live here 🙂

What are you looking forward to this Fall? Anything not on this list that I should check out?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Redux

If pumpkin just totally disgusts you, then you may want to avoid this blog for…say, three months?

Turns out they had Libby’s canned pumpkin at the Walmart grocery store, so I stocked up, big time.

After a couple bowls of pumpkin oat bran, I decided that it was time to get baking with the stuff. After all, I did buy 10 cans of it. Yes, 10.

It’s my precioussssss….

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while have probably seen a few different takes on Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

The original recipe was not vegan, as it contained eggs, but I have been tweaking it over the past year to make these muffins friendly to my diet and still very delicious!

The last time I made them, they came out a little dry and stuck to the paper. I hate that!

I decided to give them another go this week for Girl’s Night Potluck on Wednesday. When I busted out the paper, I checked the date on it for fun.

I have apparently been using this recipe since 2008!

I made a few substitutions, quite a few actually, so I will share the recipe with you since it varies so much from the original (see picture and link above).

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups Whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Agave nectar
  • 2 Flax “eggs” (2 tbsp milled flax seed mixed with 1/4 cup water)
  • 3/4 cup Libby’s canned pumpkin (accept NO substitutes)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (because I love it that much)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • A few shakes of salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use the Kroger brand which has no dairy)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375* (reduced heat due to use of agave nectar. See tips on that here)
  • Line muffin pan with foil or paper liners.
  • Mix the flax “eggs” and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Mix the agave, flax “eggs” and oil in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add in pumpkin (I omitted water due to use of agave nectar).
  • In a separate, larger bowl, mix together flour, baking powder & soda, spices and salt.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix together well.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Fill cups evenly and cook for 18-20 minutes (reduced cooking time for agave nectar as well).

The biggest change I made this time was with these two things:

I think the last time (when they stuck to the paper) I also used the Ener-G egg replacer, which is a good product but for baked goods, flax “eggs” work so much better. That’s just my opinion!

This is actually quite an easy recipe to follow and it made my kitchen smell really good!

So…how were they?

Pretty much perfect. They were sweet, moist, and delicious. No paper sticking this time too! My friends were ooh-ing and aww-ing all night so I’m guessing that they liked them too. 🙂

I am definitely sticking with this version of the recipe for a while. May have to print out this blog post and replace that old paper from 2008!

What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Return of oats

Feels like I hadn’t had oats in forever! Well, today I actually had oat bran, but still. It was 37 degrees (!) when I got up this morning so I knew a warm bowl of something great was in order!

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This bowl contained…

  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Libby’s canned pumpkin (because no other kind will do)
  • 2 tsp milled flax
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning
  • Topping: 1 tbsp pecans, 1 tbsp Naturally More peanut butter

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The Naturally More is so good! I think its quickly becoming a favorite. What I like about it, besides the taste and texture, is that its lower in calories/sugar than regular peanut butter and it contains  more protein and Omega-3’s which are good for me trying to raise my HDL. I can’t wait to go back to the doctor later this year to see if my efforts have paid off 🙂

Its also satisfying enough to have 1 tbsp, whereas sweet ones like Peanut Butter & Co have me running toward the jar with a spoon! Boy, I sure do miss that White Chocolate Wonderful though. I still can’t believe I have a jar of Nutella in my house and no desire to eat it in mass quantities like before. I’ve changed?!

Lunch and Snacks

Lunch today is some leftovers: chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), the other 1/2 of my sweet potato (with sour cream) and an orange. Oh and a pita pocket 😉

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Snacks are an apple + cheese stick and a miracle Fage 2% with peachiness…

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Tonight is girl’s night potluck and I’m excited because I will be making Black Bean Soup for the first time! I found a good recipe but I’m making my own modifications to put my own personal spin on it. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I get pretty lucky with soup recipes most of the time so I’m confident it will be good. Courtney is making her famous banana pudding tonight, so I can’t wait for that as well!

Exercise

I don’t really have anything on the exercise agenda for today mostly due to lack of time. At lunch, I’m going to a stress management class, which has been really relaxing. It has taught me deep breathing, how to have a “vacation” in your mind, and just in general relaxation techniques.

The best part is the envisioning your ideal life. I’ve really been able to take hold of this and I’m starting to see what I want to do with my life, which has been really eye-opening. I love it so far and can’t wait to see what else we learn!

I wore tennis shoes to work today on purpose, so I’m thinking I’ll get in a few short walks over the course of the day to add up to 30 minutes or so hopefully. Then, I plan to do some planks or other strength moves while my soup is simmering later. You can fit it in guys, no excuses! 😉

Weight

I haven’t talked about weight on here in a while, mostly because I’m concentrating on maintaining and toning up my body, plus relaxing more and de-stressing my worn out body. I’m not running as hard as I was because it was really starting to take its toll and I’m making a good effort to go to bed earlier or set the alarm for later when I can.

I’ve also started planning my meals out in advance, to save time in the morning and to make sure I’m getting all the necessary food groups and nutrients each day as best I can.

Its paying off because today I weighed in at 147, which is the lowest its been in quite a while. It was cool to see but that number alone does not equal my happiness (nor should it yours),  it was just an added bonus of what I’ve already been feeling, which is rejuvenated, healthy and energetic!

Have a great Wednesday blog friends, thanks for the support.