I do so love this time of year. The air is a bit bracing, the angle of the light is getting lower in the sky, and I can smell woodsmoke and drying leaves in the air. The leaves are starting to turn, and I’m already hoarding the visual experience of driving or walking down wooded roads. I want to do everything at once – shop for a new jacket (I’ve out-shrunk my barn coat), visit the local farmers markets for apples and squash, raid the crafts stores for DIY Fall decor, crochet myself a nice cuddly wrap….

The road out to a local University Field Station on my walk today 

I wish Fall lasted much longer than it does, with its warm colors and cool temperatures and cozy turn towards the comforts of home and hearth while still propelling us outdoors to appreciate the whirlwind of changes from summer to winter. I guess one of the beautiful things about Autumn, though, is its transience. It makes us appreciate it by its very brevity, clinging to those perfect days before it all dissolves into rain and chill and grey and brown on its way to the still, brittle white of winter. We’re off to a lovely and early start to my favorite season here in New England. Here’s hoping that it carries on for glorious weeks yet.

On days when the weather is good, neither too hot nor too cold nor too wet, I try to get out for a brisk walk over my lunch hour.  I typically go 2-2.5 miles, which takes me about half an hour if I really hoof it.  My employer’s facility is in an industrial park that houses other technology and defense-related businesses and labs, and you can get a good walk in without stepping out onto busy roads.  Today, my walk looked like this:

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Bridge Over a Very Small Gully

Absolutely gorgeous day today; brilliant sunshine, temperatures in the low 70s (F), fair weather clouds in the sky, and a very mild breeze.  I’ll take a hundred just like today, please and thank you.  I hope the weather continues cooler and more comfortable beyond the end of this week.  It felt great to get out and have a brisk walk after so many days spent avoiding the stifling heat that’s been parked over Boston.

I love my colleagues

We’re having a bit of a hailstorm/squall, and it’s quite loud against the roof of the building.  When it started up, this is a sampling of the comments that sprung up near my desk:

“Well nuts.  I totally didn’t dress for a rain of toads today.”
“Don’t panic!  My car is in the shop, so I brought the Ark to work today.”
“Well that’s just great.  How are we going to pick 2 people from each department?”
“Oh, we updated the rules.  The Ark now has concert seating.”
sound of hail falling with increased ferocity
“Oh, come on!” (addressing the ceiling)  “That was funny!”

A Healthy Breakfast

Mmm. I'm enjoying my favorite breakfast of late, a green smoothie. I start with frozen tropical fruit (blend of strawberries, mango, pineapple, papaya, and bananas) in a pint mason jar, add spinach, unsweetened flake coconut, chia seeds, and unsweetened vanilla almond/coconut milk. Since regular-mouth mason jars have the same diameter threads as most standard blender pitchers, you can put your gasket, blade, and collar right on the mason jar. Invert the jar, blend till smooth, and hey presto! One delicious, healthy green smoothie already packaged to go to work or wherever. Even if you drink it right away, you have still managed to avoid the chore of washing your blender pitcher plus a drinking glass if you prepare it in a jar.

Spinach is very mild in flavor, so you only taste the fruit and coconut. I find this smoothie to be plenty sweet for my taste without adding any additional sweetener. One other note: I add coconut for protein and a little bit of fat so the smoothie is satisfying and will tide me over until lunchtime. If coconut isn't something you like, you could substitute a tablespoon or two of almond butter to achieve the same effect. Nutrition facts will depend on how you prepare this smoothie, but made as written below, it's worth about 150 calories. Not bad for a delicious and satisfying healthy breakfast.

Ingredients

1/4-1/2 c frozen fruit
1 c raw baby spinach, rinsed
2 T unsweetened flake coconut
1 t chia seed
1-1.5 c unsweetened almond/coconut milk, to taste

Directions

  1. Add all dry ingredients to a pint mason jar in the order given above. Note: if the chia seeds settle to the bottom of the jar, they will tend to stick when you start blending, so add them to the jar last.
  2. Add the almond milk to the jar. I usually eyeball it using the graduations on the side of the jar. A volume closer to a cup will give you a very thick, milkshake-like smoothie. Additional milk will thin it out until it reaches a consistency that is a little easier to drink.
  3. Fit the mason jar with a standard blender gasket, blade, and collar, then invert the jar, set it into the blender, and blend on medium power for several minutes, until smooth.
  4. Remove blender hardware. Either cap the jar for transport, or enjoy straight away! So refreshing and healthy.

 

Target worries

Well isn't this just peachy. I haven't stepped foot in a Target store for a good 5 years. I haven't bought anything online from them, either. When news of that giant data breach surfaced, I felt very relieved and secure in the knowledge that I was not affected by this nonsense. But no! Today, I got the 'Sorry, but you're screwed' email from Target. Apparently, a five year estrangement was not long enough. Sigh.