Tag Archives: fall

Chai and Banana Bread

Well, it’s not November any more, but that hasn’t kept me out of the kitchen! Several weeks ago (mid-October?) Design*Sponge ran a post about homemade chai. And for some (rather odd) reason, I got all excited about making chai tea. I’ve only had chai once, although I’ve had friends and classmates rave about it for years. A friend and I were studying at a coffee shop near campus and she convinced me to try it. I like to try new things, so I gave it a go. It was really good – warm and fragrant and perfect comfort for a long afternoon studying – but it never found it’s place among my boxes (and boxes and boxes) of herbal tea and my love of coffee.

Simmering the Spices for Chai

Simmering the Spices for Chai

This particular mid-October morning, I decided to give it a try. The recipe seemed pretty simple, and the results promised to be delicious and comforting. And disaster ensued. I didn’t have half the ingredients, I googled for other chai recipes, for substitutes for cardamom, for tips. In the end, my house smelled soapy and I could only get half the chai down. Now that I remember, I believe that was also the morning that our neighbor’s ceiling collapsed because our tub had been leaking into their kitchen and we spent the weekend showering at the model.



Things have calmed down considerably and I had a chance to purchase the missing ingredients, so I thought it was time I tried again. With much more success. I knew I was on the right track when cooking the chai did not result in a soapy smell. And, because I tend to do things like this in fits and starts, I made banana bread too! I made Smitten Kitchen’s Crackly Banana Bread as I’m trying to keep our snacks at least remotely healthy, based on the sheer amount of snacks we consume in a week.

Adding the secret crackly ingredient

Adding the secret crackly ingredient

Despite its healthy ingredients, it’s very good and makes both a great snack and a great breakfast. We keep it in the freezer pre-sliced so we can just grab a slice, pop it in the toaster, butter it up, and munch away.



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Musings on Mid-November


A gorgeous Tucson sunset

To read my blog you would think I’ve spent the whole month cooking and drinking coffee! Which is partially true. Cooking takes a ridiculous amount of time, and just when I’ve finished cleaning up from lunch, it’s time to start on dinner. Now I remember why we went out all the time in Cincinnati, and why I like leftovers so much.

But there have been other things. We’re still unpacking. We did such a terrible and quick job of it when we moved into our house, we decided that we’d do it right this time. Which is kind of funny, considering we are most likely moving again in a few months. I’ve been going through boxes that we’ve carried around for years, Nate since leaving for college, me since, well, forever. It’s taking a long time.


Flowers blooming on the bush in front of our apartment.

For a while we were going on weekly adventures. Sunday afternoons were dedicated to exploring our new city. Then we tried to go to the zoo for about three weeks in a row. When it never happened, I think we gave up on our Sunday adventures. Now we lounge around the house. I often think that’s more fun than adventuring.


We had a nice thanksgiving, despite being so far from our families. I’ve always thought of Thanksgiving as my families “best” holiday. We have a strict schedule that we adhere to, starting with the Turkey Trot in the morning (I do not partake in that part) to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to the dog show, to the movie, to the evening spent in front of the fire place. The food is always the same, and if ONE THING is forgotten, someone will notice. I don’t think I have ever missed Thanksgiving with my family. I think it’s the only holiday that was left that I hadn’t missed. And then we couldn’t get the parade on the TV (we don’t get NBC at our apartment, WHAT?) and then I had a meltdown, and then I was fine. We went to Cracker Barrel with some friends for dinner, then back to their house for pie and board games. I professed my hatred of board games, and then played them happily. It was fun.

Turning Leaves

I found some turning leaves while walking to church. Unfortunately I haven’t found any more.

I’m still unemployed. It’s a weird space, being unemployed on purpose. I’m not a housewife, this is not what I want to be doing, but I did choose to leave my job knowing that there wasn’t one waiting for me here. So I stick with “not working.” I send out the occasional resume, have the occasional interview, don’t get the occasional job. I’m glad for the people who have said “Contact So-and-So, you can use my name.” It makes it so much easier. But what I hear most often is how firms are closing or struggling or still laying people off.


I’m excited for the holidays. I love this time of year – there’s something magic that happens from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. We’ve been listening to Christmas music in the car, even though it still hits 80. There are no spruce trees here, no bare branches, no dark skies. It certainly doesn’t feel like the holidays. We’re not getting a Christmas tree this year, we didn’t get one last year, and I asked Nate the other day if he thought we would get one while we lived here. He said no, and I’m inclined to believe him. Somehow it feels like a lie, to truck in a tree from somewhere else, decorate it with “snow” and pretend nothing ever changes. We’ll come up with our own new traditions, it will just take some time.

Fire Truck

Found a car show with a fire truck while on our run

We sold our house. Which is wonderful and kind of amazing, but I was sad to see it go. I’m glad we won’t be taking care of it over the winter. We owned it for almost exactly 11 months. Now we start the process all over again. This time will be much different; no super-easy only-went-to-see-one-house hunt for us this time! We’ve already been to 10 or so (I’ve lost count) and by the time we start looking again, it will probably be a whole new crop of houses. We have a pretty good idea of what we want, but I’m not so sure that house exists.


Pretty flowers – the purple leaves are dying the water purple

Well this has turned into approximately a novel. See, there are things going on! Just not super-exciting photo-worthy things. But I have some stored up – maybe next week.

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Coffee #19


Red Cup Storm

First red cup of the season – and moody November mountains in the background.

It was one of those mornings when a man could face the day only after warming himself with a mug of thick coffee beaded with steam, a good thick crust of bread, and a bowl of bean soup.

~Richard Gehman, The Haphazard Gourmet (1966)

via: Spilling the Beans

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Finding Fall: Pictures from Mom

My Mom sent me these pictures of the turning leaves on the trees near her house one day when I was complaining of missing fall.

Fall Tree

Fall Tree

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Finding Fall: a Corn Maze and a Pumpkin Patch

The weekend before last (the same weekend we had a Friday night picnic) we went in search of some fall activities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tucson has pumpkin patches and corn mazes too! I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t be “a thing” here; I guess I thought maybe pumpkins wouldn’t be ripe at the correct time or something. There are also some apple orchards, but they are farther away so we didn’t go to them. Instead, we picked a farm about an hour outside of Tucson that had a pumpkin patch and a corn maze and started our first journey outside of Tucson by car.

I was amazed to realize that we’ve been in Tucson for 4 months and we have never driven out of Tucson (well, the Tucson Metropolitan Area, if you can call it that). We have not ventured into the desert, to the mountains, or even to Phoenix! Every time we leave, it is by plane. So we filled some extra water bottles (isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you drive in the desert?) and began our journey.

Into The Desert

The drive was really pretty. The Sonoran Desert is actually quite green. I spent the whole drive looking around and saying “This is so cool! Look! There are trees, and cactus, and you can see mountains everywhere!” I’m sure that was great for Nate, who was trying to, you know, drive.

We really weren’t sure what to expect when we got there. We had never been to a corn maze in the desert. Would it be like the ones in Ohio? Would it all feel off? At first we thought it was going to be weird because almost everyone else there had kids. But we were quickly so lost in the corn maze that it didn’t matter.


Corn! Just like in the Midwest!

WHAT HAPPENED was that we entered the corn maze and almost immediately got on what we can only assume was the emergency access path that went around the perimeter of the corn maze. We knew we were in trouble pretty quickly because the path was straight and there were no other paths branching off of it. So we walked all the way around the corn maze, in the heat, with the sun beating down on us, and THEN got into the maze and started from the other end. Don’t worry, we brought our water bottles so we didn’t die of dehydration.


We didn’t buy a map for a dollar at the ticket booth because we figured “how hard can this be?!?!” See how well that worked out for us? But once we were actually inside the maze, we did find all of the numbers to punch on our little punch cards fairly easily. Except for the last two, which were supposed to be the first two, and by that time we were hot and tired and hungry and thirsty and maybe a little bit cranky.

Pathways in the Corn

Pathways in the Corn

But it was fun! It was fun getting lost in the corn and giggling when we figured out what had happened. It was fun taking separate paths that always came together again. It was fun trying to be the first one to spot the next marker.


It was fun spotting the little flowers that grew in the corn.


We did eventually make it out of the corn maze. We had an incentive – there was kettle corn! There were some food and beverage stands, a petting zoo, a bull you could ride and get your picture taken with, and a few craft stalls.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn!

We didn’t get a pumpkin. One of the side effects of autumn heat is that it makes your pumpkins rot really quickly. Our neighbors carved some and they wilted within about 2 days. So we just watched as families took the tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch and came back with their big orange loot.

Pumpkin Patch

They grow them big in Arizona

And of course you can see the mountains.

Mountain Pumpkin Patch

Right next to the pumpkin patch? Cotton! Now that’s something you don’t see in Ohio!



Tucson in the Distance

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Finding Fall: Our Trip to Ohio

Fall has always been my favorite season. Of course it helps that my birthday is in the fall! But I love the cooler temperatures, snuggling under cozy blankets at night while keeping the window open, and the crisp smell of the air. I love warm fall afternoons, especially when they are filled with cross country meets followed by apple cider and watching the turning leaves fall off the trees in my parents’ back yard. I love the colors – the leaves, the apples, the pumpkins, the decorations that begin to adorn neighbors’ front doors. And the smells – the cider, the cinnamon, the leaves, the air.

Of course, it’s still hitting 90° here and even if it were cooler, I don’t think the trees that grow in the desert turn colors quite like the maples do. We’ve been faking it with apples and cider and pumpkin spice lattes and fall candles. We open all the windows at night to capture some of the cool night air, then shut the house up in the morning to hold it in for as long as we can.

Our monthly trip back to Ohio (although this was the last one until the holidays) fell at the end of September. Friends were getting married in North Eastern Ohio and we traveled for the festivities. We caught the very beginnings of Ohio Autumn – trees starting to turn, temperatures starting to drop. It was a beautiful warm bright Saturday for the wedding; a perfect fall day. And we from Arizona got a little taste of fall to take back with us. I just hope it was enough to last until it cools down here.

Highway Trees

Fall leaves along the highway


View over town

Fall TreeAt WeddingWe had an extra day that we weren’t quite sure what to do with. We planned all our Ohio trips so that we flew out of Tucson early Friday morning and flew back Monday night, so that we would have time to visit everyone. This trip was far enough from our family and friends that our typical visiting loop wasn’t as convenient. We stayed with a friend in Columbus on Sunday night, and spent Monday driving around Columbus and eventually hanging out in downtown Gahanna (which is both cute and right by the airport).


Awesome IKEA pillow at friend’s apartment

We had lunch at this adorable French bistro. It was so cozy and the food was good. We had this little back room almost all to ourselves.


La Chatelaine Bakery and Bistro


Walking around in Gahanna

Walking around was dark and dreary and blustery – all the things that Tucson is not right now. We wished we brought jackets, and pulled our light sweaters tighter around us. We walked in and out of little shops – a toy store, a book store, a coffee shop. It can be fun to peruse when you know you won’t buy anything! We had no more room in our luggage, so we just looked and gathered ideas for Christmas gifts.

The trees weren’t fully turned, but they were getting started. Eventually it started to rain. But we headed back to the airport glad to have had a little bit of fall.

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