How has everyone’s week been? This is the first full week that really felt like Autumn. Leaves are falling everywhere, the mornings are crisp and cool and the afternoons are warm and sunny, with beautiful clear blue skies. Today was the first day that it has rained in weeks. We are soaking up all of the weather with walks and lots of playtime in the backyard.
FALL FRIENDLY FOOD
My mom is visiting this week from Texas, so it’s been a great week spending time with her — the kids are so excited to see her! There has been a lot of cooking and baking (mostly meals for my sister, who just had a baby girl), and the other day, my mom made Stuffed Pepper Soup for us. It was the perfect fall dish — it was hearty like chili and truly a one-pot meal with meat, rice, and peppers in it. The recipe makes a huge batch, too — it’s great if you’d like to eat soup for dinner and freeze the rest for an upcoming cold day!
SIMPLE, REUSABLE CAR FRESHENER
Another idea from my mom — this homemade car freshener. Car fresheners are just one of those things I always forget to buy, and when I do get them, they wear off so quickly! Plus, the good plastic ones that clip onto your heat vents seem so wasteful for the short amount of time they last. When I mentioned this to my mom, she told me you can DIY your own car fresheners with scented wax cubes and a small mason jar. You just take the metal top off, place it on a piece of wood, and put a few holes in it with a hammer and nail. Then, you pop one of the wax cubes in the jar, shut it, and put it in your cup holder. When your car warms up, it will release just enough scent for the car (it doesn’t get too strong because the sun won’t completely liquefy the wax like the wax warmers do). I guess these are probably more useful during the summer than the winter (at least here in the Northeast!), but maybe I can just point my car vent toward it when the heat is on.
A HOUSEHOLD NECESSITY
I’m going to go on record right here, and tell everyone reading this to go buy a Shop Vac for your house. Even if you are not renovators like us (we’ve used ours plenty for sucking up sawdust and plaster and other things we don’t want to use our regular vacuum for), you need one of these for emergency water spills! My mom was going to help me start the dining room wallpaper this week, when I went down to the basement and saw that one corner was completely flooded! I had just done a load of laundry, which drains into a raised concrete basin where it is pumped out to the septic system with a sump pump. Well, the sump pump had not pumped out the water, so it had overflowed the basin and flooded! It’s amazing how much water a washing machine uses. At first we assumed that the sump pump was broken, until my mom remembered that Steve had shut off a breaker for another area of the house to remove an old light. We checked, and sure enough, the breaker was still off, and when we flipped it back on, the sump pump rumbled back to life! Then we had to clean up all the water because we didn’t want anything getting moldy in the basement, and the shop vac was our hero. We had to empty it 8 times, and then we dried up what we could with old towels, and we’ve been running box fans to dry up any residual moisture ever since. Long story short, you need a shop vac in your life! I don’t know how we would have cleaned up that mess without it.
THE BOOK VERSION OF COMFORT FOOD
Does anyone have books they read when they just want something easy and familiar? I think of it as the book version of comfort food. For me, those books are Nancy Drew mysteries (and the Harry Potter series — always!). I read a Nancy Drew book this week and remembered how much I love them. The combination of the easy prose, uncomplicated characters, 1950’s style prudishness juxtaposed with the mildly shocking murderous mysteries is just enough intrigue to keep me reading while I can also kind of shut my brain off and relax. The simpleness is unoffensive to me because I read them when I was a child, and they were written for children. If I read a modern book and it has such one dimensional characters it makes me so angry — but these are so wrapped up in nostalgia for me that I can’t help but love them.