Abundant Autumn Living

Autumn in New England can be a whirlwind of places to go and things to do before the last, gloriously colored leaf falls to the earth. Taking the time to savor all the simple autumn joys and make those lasting fall memories is a passion near and dear to my heart. Even though hosting a large, autumn gathering...a harvest party...is on our family's fall bucket list, we don't want to forget to embrace the simple things. We want to arrive at the end of fall feeling that we enjoyed an abundant autumn because in and amongst the big dates on the calendar were entwined all its simple joys. 

Here is a short list of simple fall joys. Which ones will you be embracing this autumn?

- gather acorns

- all the fall baking (Here are links to three of our favorites: Ina Garten's Pecan Shortbread Cookies, Half Baked Harvest's Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes with Whipped Maple Butter, and Iowa Girl Eats' Caramelized Sweet Potato and Kale Fried Wild Rice.

- eat cider donuts

- visit a pumpkin patch

- take the scenic routes

- gather leaves

- drink hot cider, hot tea, and hot chocolate

- go apple picking

-warm by a bonfire

-carve jack-o-lanterns with family and friends

Which other simple joys are on your list? Pull up a chair and join the conversation by leaving a comment! I love to be inspired by your thoughts!

Travel Destinations: the New or the Familiar?

Nantucket has been a vacation destination for our family for 21 years. Once, for our tenth anniversary, we lingered for a week in a bed-and-breakfast inn. We've gone to Nantucket for day trips, for overnights, and for longer stays. Julia and I just returned from three days there. From rounding the iconic Brant Point lighthouse to discovering new bakeries or new-to-us beaches, Nantucket never disappoints! There's something comforting...or rather wonderfully comfortable...about returning to one vacation destination over and over again. And I'm wondering how you feel about that? Do you prefer to always explore new travel destinations, or is your heart smitten with a traditional family vacation spot?

My immediate answer would be that I like exploring the new, seeing places I've always wanted to see, and making the unknown known and familiar to me. But Nantucket has me rethinking that. There is an endearing quality to renewing your acquaintance with a distant "friend", getting to know them better, and to part with a deepened love.

But even the familiar family vacation spot is enhanced and enlivened by new discoveries. So while I enjoyed my traditional dawn walks on the island, exploring its quiet streets and slumbering houses with my camera for a couple of hours before everything awakens, I also craved the thrill of new discoveries.

Bicycling to Steps Beach, a hidden gem accessed at the end of a quiet, residential street via a footpath and a staircase, was one such discovery on this trip to Nantucket. When we reached the beach, we almost felt like trespassers who had tread upon land too marvelous to be imagined...the roaring waves on one side, the windswept sand dune with waving beach grass within touch of our fingertips to the other, a generous sprinkling of seashells at our feet, and an ever changing cloudscape overhead. All those trips to the island and we never knew about this glorious site! I fell in love with Nantucket all over again!

How about you? I'd love to hear how you prefer to vacation! Please leave a comment to join the conversation. Do you seek the new or embrace the favorite?

Breakfast Picnic

A breakfast picnic is a novel idea. But a mountaintop breakfast picnic with a view that stretches for miles is even more enticing. Recently, I planned one for Dave and I, just the two of us, on the summit of Miller State Park, the oldest state park in New Hampshire and one whose summit can be reached via an auto road. I experimented with an easy frittata recipe, and we packed it (warm from the oven) and other tasty breakfast foods along to the top of the mountain. 

We took the narrow, winding road to the summit, where we parked the car and walked a very short distance (maybe .10-mile) down a shaded trail to an overlook with a picnic table and the most majestic view of the tree-carpeted countryside and Boston's skyscrapers at the furthest point on the horizon. The sun was warm, but the morning, mountain air was fresh and invigorating, and we were a bit thrilled to have the whole mountaintop area mostly to ourselves for our whole picnic.

In order to keep planning and packing for our breakfast picnic simple, I stuck with my plan (see previous post here) of a menu that was: foraged from the refrigerator, bought at a bakery, and one item that took a little effort.

strawberries and raspberries

assorted baked goods from a local bakery

Easy Breakfast Frittata


Although I make quiche frequently, I had actually never made a frittata. It's an Italian egg dish which is really a crustless quiche. Eliminating the crust saves so much time and effort. This one, made in an 8-in. cast iron skillet, will serve 2-4 people and is the ideal, transportable, picnic breakfast food.

Easy Breakfast Frittata

6 eggs
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. chopped vegetables (use a mix of anything you'd like: peppers, onions, mushrooms, leeks, asparagus, etc.)
1 T. butter
1 T. flour
1 c. shredded cheese (any type you like: cheddar, Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, Gouda, Swiss, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt butter in an 8-in. cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables and saute a few minutes until softened. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir for one minute to blend.

While vegetables are sauteing, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together: eggs, whipping cream, salt, and pepper. Add shredded cheese and whisk to incorporate. Pour eggs over finished vegetables, give a very brief stir to mix the vegetables into the egg, and cook until just the edges begin to firm.

Remove skillet from stove top and transfer to oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until center is almost set. It will continue to cook after it's removed from the oven due to the lingering heat in the cast iron skillet.

Transport hot skillet in a towel-lined picnic basket.

Serves 2-4.

After we had polished off half the frittata and more of the baked treats than we should have, we packed our picnic back up and returned everything to the car. Then we turned our attention to the fire tower. It is open to the public to climb, and the park ranger at the entrance had given us a map of the view. I'm always a bit thrilled with a summit map, because they're round, since you're standing at the top and everything you see is 360° around you. With it as our guide, we were able to identify several nearby peaks, as well as Mount Washington to the north, the mountains in Vermont, and Boston to the southeast.

Our breakfast picnic on the mountaintop was a refreshing break from our normal routines, and it was a good reminder to go on dates more often. We decided while we were there that we definitely need to bring friends and visiting house guests back here. I imagine the view in the autumn will be enchanting!

Useful Links and Info:

     - entrance fee per person
     - hiking trails
     - bathrooms at the summit
     - fire tower could be easily climbed by people of most ages, but stairs are steep and treads are narrow


- tablecloth and napkins
- plates and glassware
- silverware, knife, and a pie server (for the frittata)
- bug spray
- sunscreen 
- binoculars

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