While I was in the hospital in September, a disorienting thing happened: it really started to transition to fall. You know how people always say, “I can’t believe it’s [whatever month] already?” Well, by the time I went home I couldn’t believe it was October already, and I really had an excuse for my confusion–there’s at least a week of my life that I can’t remember much about due to a combination of a brain injury and heavy-duty painkillers. I repeatedly didn’t recognize my own mother, hallucinated a swarm of bees was attacking me, and had to have my reasons for being in the hospital explained to me on a daily basis. Eventually I came out of my daze, and spent another several days in the hospital healing and learning how to deal with my injuries.
So mid-September turned into October way too quickly for me. It was summer, and then by the time I was out of the hospital, I was surprised to see that my local grocery store had a big pile of pumpkins out front. For everyone else, the transition to fall was probably a bit more gradual. But in case you’re still mourning summer, there are plenty of great things about the fall season. Here are a few ways to enjoy the cooler days ahead.
Wear fall colors and cozy clothes – The days of boots, scarves, and cardigans are upon us. If you find yourself missing your summer dresses, try adding a cozy knit and a pair of tights to get a couple more months out of them. And while you may not feel like dark colors work on hot days, warm, rich colors like eggplant, emerald, and of course, black, are perfect for the cooler months.
Visit pumpkin patches, hay mazes, and apple orchards – If I was able, I’d be tempted to visit the haunted corn maze on Sauvie Island. Although I won’t be going this year, in past years it’s been great fun to pick out pumpkins at an actual pumpkin patch, and to pick fresh apples at an orchard. Freshly-pressed apple cider tastes even better than the stuff in the stores, and the scenery is always gorgeous. If you’re in the Portland area everything from apples to pumpkins to chestnuts and lavender are all available nearby for the picking.
Cuddle up with movie marathons – If you’re not so keen on outdoor activities, you don’t have to feel guilty for settling into the couch for a movie marathon. Dreary rainy evenings are perfect for binge-watching all of those tv shows you were too busy to watch the rest of the year.
Fall food and drinks – It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy spiced apple cider, hot chocolate, apple pie, greens, caramel apples, soups, stews, squash, and brussels sprouts. You’ve got to use all of those apples you picked somehow, right? And all of the fall produce in season is the perfect excuse to cook up a fall feast.
Frolic in crunchy, colorful leaves – Colorful autumn leaves make the perfect photo backdrop, but they’re also fun to crunch underfoot. And if you’re willing to do some raking, nobody can tell me that jumping around in a big pile of dry leaves isn’t a good time. If you’re unsure about how this works, just follow this cat’s lead.
Have a backyard campfire – If you have a firepit in your yard, you’re ready for your very own brisk backyard campfire. Sure, summer campfires are fun, but it’s when you really need the fire to stay warm that the real magic happens. Add s’mores and you’ve got the perfect evening activity.
Decorate – Halloween and Thanksgiving both have their own decorating traditions. Carving pumpkins can be really fun (and a great exercise in creativity), but there are plenty of carving-free ways to decorate with gourds if you’re not ready to wield a knife. (I love these super fancy painted and studded pumpkins!) The spooky Halloween decorations are great, but even if you ignore the holidays you can update your decor with cozy throws and rich fall colors to reflect the change in seasons.
So those are the ways in which I usually try to enjoy fall. Did I miss any of your favorite activities? Please tell me what you love about the season!
You guys, can I get super real here for a minute? Today is exactly a month since our accident, and this recovery business is really, really hard. With so many broken bones (22, or 10.7% of the bones in the human body), every little thing is difficult. Even just sitting up in bed in the morning is a challenge. I broke ten ribs on the right side and four on the left, and some are broken in the front and back, plus my sternum, my right shoulder blade, and both collarbones. Most normal activities involve some of those bones, so even putting my hair up is difficult. I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than five pounds. Everyday, regular things like getting dressed or making a cup of coffee are a struggle. Plus, since I shattered my left kneecap and broke my pelvis, I’m wheelchair-bound until those bones heal, which will be months. I’ve joked with my family that my life feels like an obstacle course right now, and my house literally is one. We have a large basement, which is where my workspace and all of my craft supplies are, and our bedroom is on the second floor of our house, but since I can’t walk I can’t get to any of those areas. My desktop computer is on a standing desk–it’ll be months before I can stand, so it’s sitting there, unusable. Without the ramp we had put on the front steps I wouldn’t be able to leave the house, and as it is, I don’t go out much except when my parents drive me to doctor’s appointments or the store occasionally. As you might imagine, lately it’s been pretty easy for me to feel down about all of these things. Yet there’s still so much to be grateful for.
It’s so hard to have perspective in this situation. Steven or I could have been killed, or permanently disabled or disfigured in the accident. But we will recover, in time, and according to our doctors we’re both doing really well, all things considered. All of those ribs sacrificed themselves to protect my vital organs, and they did a pretty damn good job (except for the collapsed lung, but that’s okay). There are a million ways in which things could be worse, but when I’m thinking about all of the things I can no longer do it’s so easy to forget that I should be grateful that I wasn’t injured even more seriously. So I try to take comfort from little things these days. It makes me happy when I can go outside to see my neglected vegetable garden, or make myself a cup of tea. And even though very few people will get to see it, I decided to give myself a festive manicure. A little glamour is just what I need in my life right now to distract me from my problems.
If you want to give yourself a similar manicure, you’ll need black nail polish, gold leaf, a clear topcoat, scissors (the smaller the better), and tweezers. I used gel polish so that this look would last, but you can definitely use regular polish, instead. I used this gel kit (on sale right now!) with polish in black canvas and gold leaf from this kit.
Before you start, use the scissors to cut up tiny pieces of gold leaf. You won’t need much, but cut up more than you think you’ll need because once your nails are wet, using scissors will be a challenge. For the next steps, I highly recommend you do one hand from start to finish before you start the next. If you’re using a gel kit, paint your nails as usual with the basecoat and color coat (“black canvas,” in my case), curing after each coat. Then before you do your topcoat, use the tweezers to stick tiny pieces of gold foil onto your nails. (It’s a bit time-consuming, but it’s the perfect activity for listening to a podcast or watching a show that doesn’t require too much attention.) The polish will be a bit sticky at this point, so the foil should readily attach, so much so that you need to be careful where you place it, because once it’s on, it’s not moving. When you’re satisfied with the foil, do two coats with the topcoat, curing between each one.
If you’re using regular polish, you’ll want to do a couple of coats of black, let it dry, do a topcoat, then stick on pieces of gold leaf while the clear coat is still wet. Let it dry, then do another topcoat or two to seal in the gold leaf.
So it turns out that when you end up in the hospital with serious injuries, they don’t bother taking your clothes off; they just cut off anything that’s in the way. My skinny green cargo pants, one of my favorite shirts, one of my comfiest bras, and my trusty black leather motorcycle jacket all met the blades of some scissors in the ER. (Which I totally understand–with the broken bones I showed up with, I can’t imagine removing any of those items in a normal way.) But I’m still sad that they’re gone, especially the coat. I’ve had it for five or six years, and wore it more than any other coat I own. It went with everything, and even had a hood, an uncommon feature on a motorcycle jacket which often came in handy on rainy days. I kind of had some hope that I might reassemble it, but it’s raggedly sliced up the sleeve and through the zipper, so I don’t think there’s any hope for it. But now I’m trying to figure out how I might use some of the leather. No reason to waste it! So here are some ideas I’ve come across for future leather projects.
I highly recommend using secondhand, faux, or scrap leather for any of these projects. If you’re looking for more leather ideas, I’ve tackled quite a few projects with real and faux leather over the years. Here’s a partial list:
Leather fold-over clutch purse
Leather cutout earrings
Gilded leather triangle earrings
Leather and chain ladder necklace
Fringed leather bag
Leather bangle bracelet
Leather pencil cups
Wrap-around studded bracelet