A few November favorite things.

my favorite tree

I’ve been keeping a running list of fall favorites. Not all of these rank saving-my-life-right-now status but they are helping to make my November a little lovelier.

1. Rishi turmeric ginger tea. I am happily addicted to this sweet and spicy cult favorite. A nice cuppa helps the chilly fall days feel cozy instead of oppressive.

raking leaves

2. Raking leaves … which isn’t typically one of my favorite things, but a friend of mine told my kids to try raking their leaves into mazes, and they’ve been doing just that all month. Hours of entertainment.

(That doesn’t help us much with getting the leaves into the yard waste cans, but at least they’re outdoors and happy.)

3. The Overcast app. I’ve always listened to podcasts using my iPhone’s native app, but I recently converted to this free app and am loving its multiple speed settings. (It offers many more options than just 1.0, 1.5, 2.0.)

bouquet of pencils horizontal


4. The holy grail of pencil sharpeners. Last month finding a single sharpened pencil was a major early mornging headache. Now my kids are happily sharpening everything.

5. Gregory Alan Isakov on spotify. Just the right amount of mellow beautiful for fall, especially if I’m writing.

6. Apple cranberry crisp. My 10yo has been making this a few nights a week for a month now. (She uses the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, halves the topping, and adds in a cup of cranberries.) At a certain point I stopped tweeting “leftover crisp makes the best breakfast” because it was getting embarrassing. (Not that I stopped eating it for breakfast.)

my desk home office

7. Orange thyme and cardamom candles from the Grove collective. These smell amazing, especially for this time of year. Available exclusively through Grove Collaborative, a company I love.

8. A good book series. I love Harry Potter, but I tuned out on Rowling’s adult novels after I heard The Casual Vacancy wasn’t very good. But recently I kept hearing great things about her Cormoran Strike series, and listened to The Cuckoo’s Calling on audio.

I finished it last week and started The Silkworm (in hardback) that night. And then I stumbled upon Career of Evil (which strikes me as an exceptionally odd title) as a 7-day checkout from the library … and sometimes a reader’s gotta do what a reader’s gotta do.

I thoroughly enjoyed these, which surprised me a little because they’re awfully grisly in places, especially books 2 and 3.

9. This pork tenderloin recipe. This was a total winner at my house: delicious and easy, and 3 of 4 kids even ate the chipotle cranberry sauce.

I’d love to hear what YOU are loving lately. Do you have a few fall favorites of your own? Please tell us about them in comments. 


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  1. Stacey Chin says:

    Love Harry Potter and her Robert Galbraith novels AND I thought the Casual Vacancy was great. Almost every bad review I’ve read of it says something like “I loved HP, so this was a big disappointment…” – no one seems to judge it on its own merits. I’m not saying it was perfect, but definitely worth reading for the picture she draws of local village politics and class issues in modern Britain. I’ve heard the BBC adaptation was great, too, though I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.

    • Brittany says:

      I loved The Casual Vacancy. It was a very well written and insightful book.

      By the time it was published, I’m surprised anyone still went into it thinking it would be Harry Potter for adults. It was very clearly stated that it wouldn’t be.

  2. I am so glad you are enjoying the Cormoran Strike books! I am a little bit obsessed, I fear, and I am not typically one for the grisly details you reference. The quality of these books actually makes me want to try A Casual Vacancy, even though I have heard the same negative buzz about it.

  3. Jess Townes says:

    I’m digging lotion bars (I’m actually remembering to moisturize after I shower), fleece-lined leggings, Hot Cinnamon Sunset tea, PiBoIdMo, my wax warmer (currently warming an apple spice blend), and The Marvels (the new Brian Selznick book).

  4. Anne says:

    We embraced the time change as a reset in the bedtime department. That was big for the kids. If we had nighttime activities right now, it might not be as big a difference, but we are glad for the earlier bedtime.

  5. Jillian Kay says:

    I just finished the first Cormoran Strike book, and liked it a lot. I know everyone says not to compare it to Harry Potter, but in a way the story line kind of reminded me of the Sorcerer’s Stone. I don’t want to spoil anyone, but the people who ended up being the culprits in both books were somewhat similar.

  6. Now that it’s getting dark earlier, I’ve been reading aloud to my husband at night — so much better than TV. I’ve read “The Boys in the Boat”, “Deep Down Dark” (saw the movie “The 33” last night!) and “The Indifferent Stars Above”. He requests true adventure stories so I’m looking for another title (preferably with no cannibalism – ugh). We have a road trip coming this weekend so I need something fast! Any suggestions?

    • Stephanie says:

      Would you consider The Mutiny on the Bounty? I read it this summer and really enjoyed it, to my surprise! It’s based on a true story, too. There is some cruelty (reflecting “naval justice” of the times), and they are always nervous about cannibalism, but I don’t recall any actual cannibalism. =)

    • Anne says:

      I feel like this won’t be a new suggestion to you but what about Unbroken? Into Thin Air is also a personal favorite. Both are captivating real life narratives that read like novels.

      • Dinah says:

        Thanks Anne! After seeing the movie “Unbroken”, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read the book. The film was so intense and I didn’t think I had it in me to travel through that hard story again. Also, I’m finding that reading out loud is a very different reading experience than reading silently to myself. It’s almost like acting out the story, which makes for a deeper emotional experience. These adventure stories that my husband loves are wearing me out! I will definitely check out “Into Thin Air”. Thanks again!

  7. Janet says:

    I have enjoyed the Comoran Strike books too, each one gets better. Think I may go back and give Casual Vacancy a try. We’re enjoying homemade cookies and coffee in the evenings.

  8. Andrea says:

    I just put that pencil sharpener in my Amazon cart. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been on the lookout for a good one.

    My favorite thing this season is an early Christmas present that just came in the mail: The complete Anne of Green Gables set, published by Tundra Books. Every cover is so gorgeous; I can’t help feeling giddy every time I look at them.

  9. liz n. says:

    Leaf mazes sound like sooooo much fun! (Except for the part where my allergies would go into overdrive and, blinded by watery eyes and sneezing, I would run into a tree or off a cliff or something.)

    This grey, chilly, drizzly weather has me making dozens of chai spice waffles (a fill-the-freezer task), tamales, and a batch of wonderfully spicy chili.

    Knitting and quilting.

    Chili lime green tea. Yes, it sounds crazy, but it’s perfect for this time of year.

    Three new books, warm socks, and dog-sitting for one of my sons. I’ll miss this four-legged girl when she goes back home.

      • liz n. says:

        You just make it yourself: 1-2 teaspoons of agave nectar or honey (however much you like, depending on how sweet you want your tea to be), lime juice to taste, and 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder all stirred into a cup of hot green tea…although I soak a dried poblano in a bit of water and use the chili water instead of chili powder.

  10. Angela says:

    The simple pencil sharpeners are the best. We have one that the blades are even replaceable, bought in the art section of a local store. Nice points and no broken colored pencils, unfortunately I can’t remember where I packed it from last week’s move.

    I too like the Casual Vacancy. I felt like someone above that people dissed it just because it wasn’t Harry Potter.

  11. Candles! Lots and lots of candles during the morning routines helps calm me down and center my thoughts. Also, lots of new teas I’ve been experimenting with for the late fall/early winter season. The Strike books have been amazing! The third one has a long waitlist in all the libraries around me so I guess I’ll have to wait a bit longer…

  12. Mary Lou says:

    I’m loving the mint & chia lip balm from Grove (also an ePantry item). I keep one in my desk at work, and I must put it on 5 or moretimes every day.
    Also enjoying Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier, the book my mom loves for the MMD Reading Challenge.
    A quote that my church posted on our sign (“What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”) has stayed on my mind. Since I read it on Sunday, I have been more grateful for my many blessings and more intentional about recognizing them as blessings. What a great way to prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving!

  13. I also really enjoy the Cormoran Strike series. I am amazed how Rowling could go from writing Harry Potter to writing a detective series. But she does it so well! I love the characters, and the plots keep me guessing. I am on the hold list for the third book. I can’t wait to read it. 🙂

  14. Loretta S. says:

    Wait!! You heard wrong!! “Casual Vacancy” is an amazing read. I liken it to the musical piece Bolero; it starts out small and subtle and keeps growing and growing in scope and grandeur. By the end your heart is torn out and stomped on and the characters stay with you for years. I originally read it because I watched an interview with her on Charlie Rose in which she spoke on what it was like to below the poverty line before she hit it big and how it related to this novel. It was gripping. And her characters are also in poverty – it’s a realistic representation of the threads of society. Do NOT skip this book.

  15. Stephanie says:

    We’ve had that problem with the search for sharpened pencils as well–for years. My dad gave me an old-fashioned pencil sharpener to mount on the wall a while back, but it was only this last Saturday that my husband went and bought the special screws we needed and mounted it. I sharpened pencils until I thought I was going to have a blister… But it makes me absurdly happy to have a good sharpener and a supply of pencils ready to go!!

    My other recent happiness booster was to set my desktop to display a different photo from a favorite trip every hour. What a delight! I love being transported back to such a beautiful place when it’s so dreary outside here.

  16. Sydney says:

    You should read the Casual Vacancy! I really enjoyed it. Rowling really knows how to write great characters, even if the characters aren’t likable people. I read a post where you recommended The Happiness Project for a great audiobook. I listened, and am now completely in love with Gretchen Rubin’s work! THANK YOU for the introduction:)

  17. Kathryn says:

    This time of year I love all things cinnamon and pumpkin. I’m not really a pumpkin spice latte girl (I know…blasphemy!) but I’m loving my pumpkin chai candle from Diamond Candles. Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea is my afternoon pick me up, and when the stores start selling the cinnamon soaked pine cones, I’m in heaven!
    I also find myself buying pretty journals this time of year that I tell myself will turn me into a daily eloquent writer. I have quite a collection of beautiful blank journals. ?

  18. Kirsten says:

    I’m enjoying all the pumpkin and fall seasonal items from Trader Joe’s. Pumpkin scone cookies, butternut squash au gratin, etc. Unfortunately, they have discontinued the pumpkin croissants. Unfortunately, I live in an area where we have 9 months of summer, and 3 months of not quite so hot weather, so college football season is an important harbinger of fall. And, as we have a Thanksgiving road trip coming up, I’m looking forward to reading the new Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum mystery. Completely “potato chip” reading, but easy enough that I can still get through it while riding in the car with my dear husband and cherubs.

  19. Bekki says:

    We finally found a pencil sharpener too! Funny what a big difference that makes in our school day. Currently loving Cup of Calm tea, Easy Shift app for a little extra pin money, and my unicorn pepper grindet.

  20. I always look forward to fall’s first meal of Honey Baked Lentils with baked squash. I literally put my lentils in the squash, after mashing butter into it, for a delicious dinner that just makes me feel really good.

    This year we had a lot of squash, both butternut and buttercup, so we baked them all at once and used the leftovers in various meals. Last night, I scooped the remaining pulp out of the rinds and pureed it along with the good parts of a couple apples that had sat around too long, producing 3 cups of fruit puree to substitute for the applesauce in making 4 loaves of Raisin Bran Bread. It’s so good! I had tried substituting pumpkin for applesauce once before, but I think the squash is better.

  21. Mrs. Meyers Orange Clove hand soap from pantry (from the discount you sent out a while back). It came Friday and I want to just wash my hands all the time just to smell how wonderful and Christmassy they smell. Definitely making grey days sparkly.

  22. donna says:

    I read The Cuckoo’s Calling and enjoyed it. I need to pick up The Silkworm. Maybe in the winter.
    A few things I’m loving in November:
    Ginger Beer tea from David’s Tea! (Hot or iced, depending on the day)
    All the twinkly lights lining
    the streets
    Holiday windows are up and they are gorgeous!
    The Christmas Market in the Distillery District starts this
    My new poncho from Forever
    21. Perfect throw-over piece for transitional weather!

  23. I actually really liked “The Casual Vacancy”, but haven’t tried her Robert Galbraith novels yet. Just bought the first one!

    And that pencil sharpener is going on my list. My little one is constantly breaking the pencil tips sharpened by our cheapo little sharpener. Maddening – for him and for me! I’m investing in this better one.

  24. Anna says:

    For some reason I’m on the pumpkin bandwagon for Noosa’s pumpkin yogurt. That and reading in general. I’ve gotten back into the swing after a couple of I-don’t-feel-like-reading-before-bed non-fiction reads. PHEW! Glad that drought is over.

  25. Megan says:

    Thank you for the candle credit! My husband has been enjoying cardamom in his coffee this month, and as a non-coffee drinker, I can now join in on the cardamom fun.

  26. Liesl says:

    I took the plunge and tried ePantry and got the blood orange candle. OH MY WOW. I want this candle lit all the time. It smells so good, and the smell lingers even after the candle is out. Basically, I want to order cases of them. So feel free to encourage ePantry to keep sharing free candles with all of us 😉

  27. Laura says:

    I love Gregory Alan Isakov! This fall I’m taking lots of walks in the leaves and enjoying the cooler weather, snuggling and nursing my baby, and drinking coffee.

  28. Jamie says:

    Going to steal that leaf-raking maze idea.

    Really enjoying the kitchen right now – changes in weather inspire me to try different recipes. Tonight was Roasted Acorn Squash. I feel fancy.

  29. Jennifer says:

    Maybe someone has said it already but JK Rowling was featured on an interview aired on Pop Culture Happy Hour, discussing her crime books. I picked up a copy after the interview because her thought process and research game was on point in my mystery loving mind.

  30. Lindsey Back says:

    Here in Brisbane Australia jacaranda trees are in blossom everywhere and the flame trees are just beginning to show their flowers. Bougainvillea blossom is everywhere too in every colour imaginable. It is just beginning to heat up with 35 deg c forecast on the weekend so I think the pool will be in use. So different to your picture of fallen leaves.

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