Tuesday, September 19, 2017

11 Favorite Things

Hi all,

One of my routine, on rotation posts.  Its that time again for 11 things I'm loving now (which hopefully, you'll love too :-) or may inspire some fun fall activity ideas and/or eats in your own life). 

1.  Fall festivals.  Pumpkin Fest in Keene, NH.  Carnivals and small town fairs.  The air clear and bracing.  Smells of grilling meat, sweet dough and simmering oil lingering, alongside the scent of sweetly burning wood, crisp leaves and mulch.  The quintessential scent of small towns and fall fairs.  Love that.  People bustling, the sounds of laughter and conversation carrying in the air. 

At particular events such as Pumpkin Fest, the quaint downtown streets growing crammed to the brim with people, food stalls and autumnal smells.  Leaves swirling along the curbs, a sense of rowdiness and new beginnings in the air.  Anywhere one looks, they are greeted with sidewalks and streets overflowing with pumpkins.  Boosting all sorts of different facial expressions or spooky scenes depicted in carvings on their fronts.  Glowing warmly with flickering candlelight from within.  Their toothy grins or grimaces evoking spooky or sweet feelings of anticipation for the approaching season.  Keene making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for “most carved and lit pumpkins in one area” for several years in a row- a sight to behold, for sure. 

Absolutely check this out if you haven't done so yet.

2.  Farms. I don't know why but I've grown to love them.  Not so much to just tour or visit randomly but for instance, the idea of going to a romantic dinner in a rustic, candle lit barn.  Events held in barns are also the bomb. I love the touch of antiquated ambiance they hold, the slightly dusty feel, the warm glow the wood seems to exude, the exposed beams and rafters.

Parkers Maple Barn Restaurant looks like a potentially neat place.

A few of these restaurants (minus Top of the Hub) might carry similar ambiance.  Especially the 1761 Old Mill Restaurant.

3.  All things pumpkin.  Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, pumpkin donuts, the list goes on and on.  I.  Love.  It.

(The following food photos are my own creations and photographs.  To see a full listing of my recipes, go to Sweet. Raw. Free.)

Lavender pumpkin "mighty good" pancakes.  This one is a hybrid of my childhood favorite fused with a few of my own flourishes.  They're pretty awesome.  You're welcome ;-)

Ready in just 10 minutes.  Healthy and hearty, pumpkin chia homemade oatmeal.  Mix up a big batch and have breakfast at the ready for several days.  Gluten free, dairy free and sugar free.  The perfect autumn breakfast, snack and/or sweet. 

Pumpkin Pie Paleo Pancakes.  These guys are grain free, dairy free, sugar free and taste awesome.  Like eating pumpkin pie without the crust and only clocking in at about 400 calories per stack of four.  One of my absolute favorites. 
To sample this breakfast dream, heres the link. 

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars.  So moist, cakey, lightly sweet.  Low in gluten, dairy free and free of refined sugar.  A fabulous party recipe as they're tasty and easy to toss together. 
For the recipe, click here.

Pumpkin cheesecake.  Doesn't get much more New England than this.  And damn is this particular version good, if I say so myself.  Grain/gluten free and very low in sugar (no refined sugar is used, just honey).  Heres the recipe for this easy pumpkin cheesecake.  Upon sampling, it may just become your go-to fall dessert... ;-)

4.  Long fall foliage laden drives and weekends away.

Potentially outstanding weekends away in New England...a few ideas.  Check out this article on Two Drifters Blog.  Not only is their blog fabulous but this entry boosts some pretty great suggestions for romantic getaways.

5.  Dresses.  Love wearing them.  Gotta milk this one for as long as possible before the frigid mouth of winter swallows us up in a glittering blanket of snow ;-)

6.  Parties.  Board game nights.  Girls weekends.  Birthday bashes.  Loving the celebrations and get togethers my mom and I have been hosting lately.  Loaded with laughter, great food and overflowing with fun.  Selecting the menu, the food prep, playing loud music and dancing around the kitchen while getting everything ready, and finally, having a blast with our guests.  All of it, fabulous.

7.  Candles.  Especially those scented with autumnal scents.  Cinnamon, pumpkin, vanilla cookie, apple spice, the best flavors.  Lying in bed, reading, with candles flicking along my window sills and by the bed.  The ultimate.

8.  Dancing.  Ive been doing a fair amount of this lately with my mom and her friends.  Surprised to find myself really loving it.   A great dance locale I highly recommend is the First Friday event at MFA in Boston.  Swanky atmosphere, great drinks and appetizers and a pretty dang good DJ (at least when I was there).  All while the museum is kept open late so one can alternate between wandering the museum and getting down on the dancefloor.

For more info on the event First Fridays at MFA in Boston, click here.

9.  Scary stories.  With autumn knocking on the door, I'm finding myself drawn to slightly darker, gripping, creepier reads.  Needful things by Stephen King (a reread, as I loved this one years ago), Donald Ray Pollack books- shocked to find myself tearing through his stuff, and Coraline by Neil Gaiman nearly next on the list.  I am loving these layered, thought provoking, creepy but totally fun reads at the moment.

Already read this one and was shocked to find it excellent.  Ill be reading his other book, Devil All the Time quite soon.  This guy is pretty interesting too.  Having worked in a factory until something like his 40s and (if I recall correctly) not even completing high school, his books are phenomenal, with rave reviews and for good reason.  His stories are dark, sinister, but extremely well written.  Grabbing hold of you with a firm refusal to let go.

10.  Paleo desserts.  These two are especially awesome.  Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes.  Moist, nearly melt in your mouth, fudgy, lightly sweet, totally tasty.  And Sunflower Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Chewy, super moist, like a PB & chocolate cookie except this one has zero grains, no dairy and almost no sugar.  Whip up a batch of these and snuggle up for a movie as the temperatures turn down.

Get the recipe here for these mouthwatering Paleo chocolate cupcakes.

For a taste of these Sunflower Butter Chocolate Chip Paleo cookies, click here.

11.  Walks in the woods.  With autumn fast approaching and the leaves slowly but surely exploding into their fiery flames of color, I cant think of a better time of year for hiking, walking in the woods, checking out apple orchards, leaf peeping, going somewhere like Acadia National Park (on the bucket list for sure) or the like.  With a symphony of shades as your backdrop, talk about a peaceful, breathtakingly scenic and romantic activity.  Combine it with a pumpkin donut and green tea in hand, you're good to go. 

Some of the prettiest New England spots for leaf peeping :-)

And a few great fall foliage hiking trips.

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