What I’m into (September 2014 edition)


Growing up, I never understood people who claimed fall as their favorite season. To me, fall only meant that winter was right around the corner, and as a daylight junkie, I’ve never been on great terms with winter. Spring and summer had my heart.

But as I’ve gotten older (and as my seasonal allergies have gotten ever more brutal) fall has captured my heart. I adore September, and this has been a lovely September.

influence collage

I spent last weekend at the Influence Conference in Indianapolis. As always at this kind of thing, my favorite parts were the unanticipated ones: meeting new friends I didn’t know I wanted to meet, chatting with old friends I didn’t know were going to be there, and hanging out with my awesome roomies.

reds game

Barely twelve hours after getting home from the conference, my family piled in the car to drive up to Cincinnati for the last Reds game of the season. If we hadn’t bought the tickets earlier in the week (steeply discounted because the Reds have long been out of contention for the playoffs), I’m not sure we would have gone. (This homebody had been away from home for three days, after all.) But I’m so glad we went.

On the home front, the house progress continues, slowly but surely.

front porch

For some inexplicable reason, Will and I both woke up last Saturday morning saying, “we have to paint the front door today.” I picked out the color all by myself (with a little help from instagram), which means this might just be the first time in the history of my picking paint colors that I picked a winner on the first try. (Ben Moore. Chesapeake Blue.)

In the kitchen

tomato soup

It’s felt like summer for a week now, with highs in the 80s, but earlier this month we had a week of genuinely fall weather. Jacket weather. On one rainy day, we made soup and grilled cheese and it was glorious. I’m ready to move on from summer salads to fall comfort foods.

On that note: I’d be deeply grateful if you’d hit me with your favorite crock pot recipes in comments. I’m resolving to use mine more in the coming months.


And I finally, finally tried bulletproof coffee. We are bona fide coffee snobs around here. (It’s a blessing and a curse, I tell you.) Bulletproof coffee sounded like a surefire way to ruin a good cup of coffee. But I’ve had blood sugar issues ever since pregnancy #1, and bulletproof coffee is supposedly good for blood sugar stabilization.

I am pleased to report that it wasn’t terrible. It was pretty good, actually. I wouldn’t say I preferred it to my regular cup (black, and strong), but not because it’s worse, just different.

(To make it: add one tablespoon coconut oil and one tablespoon butter to twelve ounces of coffee, blend, and serve. A good blender is essential, and the quality of ingredients is paramount. I used Kerry Gold butter, Nutiva coconut oil, and my favorite locally roasted coffee, all thoroughly whirled up in my Ninja.)

what I'm reading

What I’m reading

As I’ve already told you on facebook, and in Sunday’s newsletter, and in yesterday’s post, I’ve fallen hard for Outlander. But I have so many good books in progress and on deck. Pictured above: Holy is the Day, The Geography of Memory, The Big Truck That Went By, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Light in August, On Teaching and Writing Fiction.

After I took that picture, I realized I’d forgotten the books on my nightstand: The Brothers K, The Accident, and A Lady at Willowgrove Hall.

This seems like a good time to mention this is how I make time to read, but there aren’t enough strategies in the world to get me through that list by the end of October. Hey, a girl can dream.

On the blog

Practice saying these five words out loud.

Forget summer reading. Here’s your autumn reading guide.

There are four possible levels of relationship.

The bored housewife as plot point.

My favorite apps.

Say it like you mean it.

The thirty-year rule.

Best of the web

Science shows something surprising about people who love to write.

Why introverts don’t always want to be alone. Let’s turn the conversation from “leave me alone” to “we enjoy connecting.”

How long it takes to read the world’s most popular books.

Using your phone as an alarm? Here’s why you should stop.

We have to go back: Lost, 10 years later.

What were you into in September?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately. 


Leave A Comment
  1. Jenn says:

    My favorite crock-pot meal is Italian Roast Beef. Just throw in 1 pound lean beef or venison, 12 oz beer, 1pkg Italian Good Seasoning dry mix (or make your own), 1 jar peperoncini with juice, remove stems, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Cook about 6-8 hours or till it shreds easy. Serve on buns.

    This was a regular in my house growing up. Love the color of the door!

  2. Kelty says:

    I always enjoy these “What I’m Into” posts. 🙂 Our favorite crock pot recipe lately has been Budget Byte’s Chicken Taco Bowls. Very tasty and we make them like Chipotle bowl knock offs if we’re feeling fancy, with cilantro rice and all the fixins.

    I’d love to have some more Crockpot recipes though! Especially ones that require ZERO advance prep. BONUS: one that does not result in a large pile of shredded meat. I mean, I like shredded meat, but I’d love to have a recipe or two that isn’t.

  3. Susan says:

    I’m a diabetic diagnosed after my baby was born and if you are having blood sugar issues, what you eat for breakfast (always some fiber and or protein with a little bit of carbs) will make a much bigger difference than the coffee that you drink. I’m a tea snob, myself. Every person’s body is different, but feel free to message me!

    • Anne says:

      I drift hypoglycemic myself, so I have to be careful about breakfast. And it’s not the coffee itself, but the significant quantity of fat, that staves off the dreaded rebound hypoglycemia.

  4. MelissaJoy says:

    Fall is my favorite! I have a love/hate thing with crockpot cooking (dry meat, mushy veggies), but I do use it for the minestrone soup in Fix It and Forget About It, lessening the cook time, and the Chipotle barbacoa copycat recipe (joyfulhealthyeats). Do you make your tomato soup?

  5. Meghan says:

    I don’t understand this bulletproof coffee idea. How is adding coconut oil and butter more healthy than drinking it black?

    I can’t help you on in the crockpot department. I do love the thought of crockpot recipes, but I tend to find them too mushy and soft for my tastes. Maybe I’ll get some good ideas from the comments on this post!

  6. Valerie says:

    Crockpot junkie I am! I work all week for the state and on weekends I work another job to prepare for my daughters college education. Sunday I put a beef roast, 2 dry packets of au jus(3/4 cup of water), celery, carrots and potatoes. Dinner was ready and we sit down as a family.

    My story about “Outlander”: I bought the book, actually scared me it was so thick. I had the book for a year, had a friend that kept encouraging me to read it. So, husband, daughter and I were going on a very long road trip. Delaware to South Carolina. Daughter was in the back with her movies, husband was driving and I hate driving(love to fly) anywhere longer then 4 hours, I start complaining around the 2 hour mark. Picked up “Outlander” by the time we hit Virginia to see my brother I was on my phone calling him to get to the nearest bookstore for the next book. When he got to the bookstore he said he felt like a deer in headlights because there were 5 other books and nobody could figure what one was next. He bought all of them for me. Love him!! I met Diana Gabaldon when she was in Philadelphia, she is a beautiful talent.

  7. Sarah says:

    Check out the “slow cooker chicken taco soup” on allrecipes. It has over 4,000 reviews! It’s so easy. I even slap frozen chicken breasts in there, and it’s great every time.

  8. Erica M. says:

    I made mocha bread pudding in the slow cooker with some “fail bread” we attempted to make for church. (Poor husband got flour happy with it!) Most amazing thing ever. I also think I’ll try making my own homemade bread this winter. Nothing like warm bread right out of the oven.

    As for not using phones as alarms, I don’t really have any of those problems with my phone. Half the time I forget it exists until it rings.

    Plus, I can wake up to the Skyrim Dragonborn theme every morning. Nothing like a jolt to get me out of bed. (And the note that comes up when the alarm goes off says “Wake up! There are dragons!” :P)

    (That said, I have problems with reading stuff on the Internet right before bed. I’ve had so much trouble getting to sleep that I think I’ll have to stop this.)

    • Jennifer H says:

      I am checking out this book! Since the other two members of my family became vegetarian, I cannot justify fixing a crockpot full of meat-something just for me. But I really miss the ease of using my crockpot.

      • Heather says:

        I hope that you like the recipes! The ones I’ve tried have been pretty easy to follow and have tasted good. I have two young boys and they liked the meals, which is a good sign! 🙂

      • Courtney says:

        Another site worth checking out is SavvyVeghttp://savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/index.php

        There are tons of vegetarian and vegan recipes, including some slow cooker ones. It’s my most used “cookbook.” 🙂

  9. Ana says:

    Yeah, I’m with Meghan, can you explain why the bulletproof coffee is better than black? (I get why it would be better than cream & sugar, but better than black?)

    I don’t prefer crockpot recipes, veggies turn out too mushy and we are limiting our meat consumption.

    OK, going to put the first Outlander book on hold at the library, I’m intrigued.

    • Anne says:

      Re: bulletproof coffee. Not better than black, necessarily, but different in that it contains a pretty high quantity of healthy fats, which are helpful for stabilizing blood sugar for hours.

  10. liz n. says:

    I think I’m one of the last dinosaurs on Earth who doesn’t use a crockpot! Autumn has always been my favorite time of year– especially for cooking–even though it’s the worst time of year for my allergies. It’s also when I quilt most of the quilts I’ve been sewing all year, and when I get to sit outside and read more than I can stand to do in summer. It is also the time of year when my coffee consumption pretty much doubles! I have yet to try bulletproof coffee, but I’ll have to do so tomorrow morning; I’m intrigued.

    At the moment, I have a quilt loaded into the hoop, materials set aside for some handmade journals I need to finish, a couple of loaves of sourdough covered and rising, and the fixings for tamale fillings simmering away on the stovetop…and A Tale of Two Cities is waiting patiently.

  11. Lee Ann Roberts says:

    I highly recommend Cook’s Illustrated’s slow cooker cookbooks. I’ve checked them both out from the library and we liked every recipe we tried; a stew with white fish, shrimp, and chorizo stands out in my memory.

    Since it’s Cook’s Illustrated, there is some explanation of why the recipes work as they do, and many require advance prep (most of which could be done the night before).

    Sounds like I need to buy these for myself. 🙂

  12. I loved that Rolling Stone article about LOST!! Also, The Brothers K has long been on my list of books to read.

    Crockpot cooking is basically my favorite kind of cooking. My favorite thing that I make lately is buffalo chicken meatballs, with buffalo sauce also from scratch. So easy, quick, and they go incredibly fast in my house.

  13. Kristal says:

    I make lots of lentil soups and bean-y things in the crock pot. Lately we’ve been trying Indian food & loving it. My family thinks I’m a great cook & it’s all because of the magic of the crock pot. ♡

  14. Leigh Kramer says:

    Love the new door color! Your book stack makes me so happy. Definitely want to hear your thoughts on Holy is the Day and The Brothers K. Also Light in August takes me right back to high school.

  15. Arenda says:

    I love your front door! Beautiful colour!
    And I’m with you on not looking forward to winter . . . especially after last year’s gloomy winter! But I love the comfy coziness of autumn. And since moving east two years ago, I’m still awestruck by how beautiful the changing colours are here!

    Some of my favourite slow cooker meals include:
    Wild Mushroom Beef Stew http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-wild-mushroom-beef-stew-156745
    San Francisco Chops http://www.melskitchencafe.com/san-francisco-chops-slow-cooker/

  16. This is my favorite slow cooker recipe: http://www.jessieweaver.net/2012/02/honey-parmesan-pork-roast-in-the-crockpot/ It is SO good despite the somewhat wacky ingredients, and the pork doesn’t dry out since it’s a nice big roast. Pour the gravy over everything. Heavenly!

    What do you think of The Brothers K? I tried to start it at one point, maybe it was last summer, and I just couldn’t get into it with all the baseball stuff. But then, maybe you understand the baseball stuff. 😉

    • Anne says:

      That sounds delicious; thanks for sharing the recipe.

      I haven’t started The Brothers K yet, but it was recommended by a good friend with very good taste. (The inspiration for the Other People’s Bookshelves series, in fact. That’s bona fide. 🙂 ) And I’ve since seen it pop up in the reading list of other friends with very good taste, so I’m hopeful. But then again, I like baseball. 😉

  17. Karrie says:

    I use my crockpot a lot, as a remote worker I love that I can use my 10 minute break to get dinner ready for later! One easy favorite ( maybe that is why it’s a fave) is put a small pork loin in crockpot ( I like the ones from costco in a 4 pack) pour a jar of salsa verde over it, quarter an onion and put in. Cook on low for 6 hours or so. Before serving shred pork with a couple forks and mix together with sauce. Serve with tortillas, shredded cheese and sour cream. Leftovers are also good over cooked rice the next day. 🙂

  18. Anna says:

    I kept meaning to post about the crock-pot, but, well, kids. Anyways, the book that got me using our crock-pot regularly is America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker book. I cook their Mexican Chicken (can’t remember the official name) regularly in large quantities and freeze the extra. They work out the science of keeping meat moist and flavorful. I’ve had some truly nasty crock-pot meals (mushy or dry), but their book has helped me love my crock-pot again. I also cook my beans in the crockpot, and whole chickens. After a chicken you can then pick it to the bone, add water to the bones along with carrot, celery, onion and make broth overnight. Oh, and bulletproof coffee is awesome. I forgot how great that is at stabilizing blood sugar. That would have been useful during my gestational diabetes months.

  19. Gwyn says:

    Hello Anne,
    Do you buy all the books you read? How do you decide to buy book or purchase on Kindle?
    I just finished One Plus One & loved the book! I want to gather a good selection of non fiction, bio’s, bibliography, poetry & fiction but have no clue where to start! I’m overwhe!med! Suggestions?
    Thanks for all your great posts!

  20. Beth says:

    Loved the article on writing; thanks for sharing — and your door looks GREAT!

    I love my crockpot, especially for soups. And personally I love “mushy” vegetables, so even some potatoes/carrots/onion with Italian seasoning (last time I used a dressing packet) and a bit of olive oil is yummers to me.

    These meatballs are good and easy (or you could make your own meatballs, but that’s less easy — ha!): http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/04/slow-cooker-hawaiian-meatballs-recipe.html

    Love this baked potato soup with some homemade dinner rolls: http://www.food.com/recipe/low-fat-loaded-baked-potato-soup-283271

    I adapted this recipe for green chile chicken stew for the crockpot by basically just throwing all the ingredients in and cooking it until the potatoes were done (8-10 hours or so on low): http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1308964

    This white bean chicken chili is easily made in the crockpot, too, and is delicious with a little cheese on top and chips — this is one of my favorites!:

    Pasta e Fagioli (that makes a LOT) is hearty and yummy with with breadsticks: http://www.thecountrycook.net/2011/11/pasta-e-fagioli-slow-cooker.html?m=1

    And these pepperoncini sandwiches are super tasty and super easy:

    (Now I’m going to watch the comments for more great recipes!)

  21. Jamie says:

    I felt the same way about fall, but my husband has taught me to love it! Haven’t made it yet, but this one is in the works for Fall Crockpot To Try:


    Also, unless you don’t like using cream of whatever soup and frozen veggies, the following is a Go-To Easy one:

    Layer in the crockpot: 1 pound boneless chicken breast cut into strips/pieces, 15 oz can cream mushroom soup, 2, 16-oz pkgs frozen vegs for stew (potatoes, onions & carrots), 2 Tbsp butter (or margarine).

    I don’t know why, but it tastes so much better than it sounds. I’m excited for soups, especially French Onion.

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