a little bit of everything.

For the past few months, I've been staring out my kitchen windows and wandering the back roads, straight-up gawking at this beautiful place I call home. It's funny how things like autumn happen every year, yet somehow distinguish themselves from seasons past. I've lived drippy, depressing Octobers. I've lived Octobers where everything around me was brand new and I was too busy finding my place to notice the leaves. This is my fourteenth October on my little cul-de-sac, and I swear, it still feels brand new.

Just to be clear, I realize it's now November. I'm taking liberties here and lumping all the fall months together. I'm writing them down as a stunning collective, because next year, it might not look so pretty. I might need to dig this from the archives and remind myself that sometimes, October feels like November, but other times, November feels like the best parts of everything.

 For whatever reason, fall tends to be one of my craziest seasons, and this one does not disappoint. I'm decking the halls in what just may be my most epic decorating season to date. In the past, any discussion of 12 straight hours knee deep in tinsel made me shaky and tense. But now the time has come to start again, and it's everything I need. I am more desperate to cram myself more tightly into a schedule already bursting at the seems than I realized. I detoured through a magical wonderland with my peeps last week, then kept on walking in search of lunch and much needed girl talk.

Man, it was awesome...

 In true fashion, we stayed too late eating peach pie and laughing. We started our trip so slowly that it became impossible to distinguish it from the rest of the day. We spent almost every minute talking about things like fur babies, politics, holidays, food, family, and what love should speak to the world around us.

  The leaves were putting on their best show, especially on the way home when the drizzle gave way to spectacular bursts of sunshine playing that shadowy thing the light does in fall.

We take this day trip every fall, and I still can't get over it. I am struck by how ordinary and spectacular these simplest routines can be. Our neighborhoods are different. The trees and even the sky are different. But the heart and the guts and the trust are very much the same. Dancing leaves lined the curbs, so I stooped down for a street-view shot. The leaves were popping, the air was chilly.

 As always, the best part of being away is coming home. Always and forever, amen. I missed my puppies more than usual. if I could have reached through the miles and snatched them up to experience it with me, I would have. they are my home, and as our life gets weirder and, in many ways, harder, I'm ever more aware that the best moments are dulled without them near.

It was dark when I arrived home, still dark the next morning when I walked the puppies. But somewhere around mid-morning, the sky caught up with me. It snapped awake and my neighborhood had never looked more beautiful.

 Instagram is jammed full of trees putting on a show. It can almost seem a little redundant. The leaves are turning! It's pretty! I get it! The thing is, we aren't really sharing our pictures for each other, are we? We're taking the time to notice, and remember. We're doing it because there's just no other way. This is the world we get to live in, and we all secretly feel like the luckiest one. We're partial to our leaves, our trees, our place and our lives, just as we should be. I wouldn't trade the maple trees in my front yard for  a single other maple tree on the planet. There's just something about it.

Indeed, it's November, despite all evidence to the contrary. My gratitude meter is cranked way up. I'm tremendously thankful for my actual life even though heartbreak keeps heaving our way. It's all too easy to treat each day as if it's a marble on a tipping point, it will either roll one way, or the other. Truth tells me it doesn't have to be that way. A moment, a day, a life shouldn't be reduced down to "bad" or "good". It's a little bit of everything. It's rain and warm air and leaves so bright and thick on the ground, it almost feels criminal to trample them. They won't be here for long, though. And if you ask them, they'll tell you, they were made for this.

I don't exactly know why the seasons teach me about life, I only know they do. This exact moment, Fall 2016, is telling me to love harder. It's saying I should be extra generous with my apologies, that I should reach for my peeps and hug them more, that I should swing my door wider and even that I should lock it sometimes, and turn off the lights.

 October was slow and fast. It's lingering, and November has brewed it a cup of tea. They are somehow better together, where the lines are blurred and the distinctions are lost. The combination is intoxicating, so I'll pop a cake in the oven to serve with the tea and breathe through the open windows. This is the right time to set the pace for a season of blazing kindness and world-changing, everyday love.

come and join me?

just sayin'.

lemon raspberry ricotta cake
1 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 + ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1 + ½ cup ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 pint fresh raspberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a 9inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray sides with non-stick spray or butter and flour. Set aside. If you do not have a springform pan, a regular 9 inch cake pan will do just fine.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and zest of lemon and with fingers or the back of a spoon rub zest into sugar. It will become a bit moist but no worries. Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, ricotta cheese, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  4. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until blended - there might still be a few streak of flour. Fold in melted butter just until combined.
  5. Gently fold in ¾ of raspberries careful not to crush them. Pour batter into prepared pan and gently smooth top. Scatter remaining raspberries over top of cake. Place in preheated oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown and when toothpick is inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before releasing from pan.
  6. Let cool completely before serving. This is great alone or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream. The cake can be stored at room temperature wrapped tight or stored in fridge. It keeps well for several days.


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