10 Tips for a Better Fall

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Meal plan

Set aside time to plan for what you’ll be eating and write a shopping list for the coming week. Make sure you’re not stressed when you do it – only then will it turn into a positive habit you’ll want to continue with – and go to the store once, preferably early in the day when you’re not hungry or low on energy. You hear many people say they don’t have time to plan a weekly dinner menu, but we’d like to argue you probably don’t have time to not plan in that case. Planning will, at the end of the day, always save you time (and energy. And money). In one hour’s time, you could easily plan for a week’s worth of dinners (and lunch boxes) as well as write a shopping list. Add one more hour, and you can probably get the shopping done as well (perhaps a little more depending on proximity to the store of course). All in all, two-three hours. Picture instead having to come up with something to cook and going to the store after work every day – doesn’t it seem likely this would accumulate to a whole lot more than that? As fall often brings with it lower energy levels and limited amount of daylight, being cautious with where your time goes is a smart investment in your mental (and physical) wellbeing. If you have your food situation under control, perhaps you’ll have time to go for a run after work, before the sun sets? Perhaps you’ll manage better to stick to home cooked food if you have a plan and the cabinets are well stocked, and be able to stay away from getting take out/ordering home delivery when you’re hungry and it’s dark, wet and cold outside? Meal planning would win olympic gold if life management was an event, that’s for sure.

Embrace the darkness and create a cozy evening routine

One of the things people struggle with the most when fall rolls in is the obvious fact that the days get shorter. How can this be made a good thing? For us personally, we like the darkness. It plays a part in the cyclical life of seasons we love to live so close to, and balances the lighter half of the year in a most necessary way. Spring and summer are wonderful, but they also mean hard work and spending long days outside. Fall is like a soft, welcoming hug, making room on the couch and pouring a hot cup of chocolate for us. Fall is one of the reasons we get to have spring. Fall is needed for nature to recover, reset and rebuild. Fall is, ultimately, just as much a friend as the other seasons. Perhaps it wasn’t until we got into vegetable growing, moved to the woods and started this slightly unusual life that we realized that, but we do now. And by the simple act of realizing its importance, we’ve come to like it much more. Could you do the same? View darkness, rain and colder temperatures as the only way light, sunshine and warm weather can exist in harmony with Mother Nature? As the only way we can sow seeds and farm our soil yet again? As necessary rest for plants and animals alike? When those pieces fell into place for us, we could start embracing everything from darkness to rain to overall gloominess. And are there practical things you can do to make it easier? Buying yourself a nice scented candle that will make you happy to light every night? Stocking your cabinets with warming teas you’ll truly enjoy having? Investing in a pair of cozy socks to wear at night? Ask yourself what you picture when you picture the archetypical cozy fall evening. What are the ingredients there that you could replicate? For us, it’s a crackling fire, warm stews, thick wool socks, hot tea and candles. Come up with yours and make them staples.

Apple butter is one of the yummiest things to make in the fall. Recipe found in the post Eight Edible Christmas Gifts.

Embrace apples!

How many apple varieties do you know? How many could you identify? Reconnect with one of the most defined food seasons by sampling as many different varieties as you can and find your favorites. Memorize new names and what each kind is best suited for – some are excellent for apple sauce, others for crumbles – and really explore baking and cooking with them. Could you make it a new habit to bake something yummy with apples every weekend throughout the fall? Or take turns with a friend, where you treat each other to a new concoction every other weekend? Allow yourself to browse cookbooks and recipe websites and try new things. And could you challenge yourself to opt out on imported fruit for a while? Perhaps a month, two months, three months? You choose what suits you, but give it a real go. Apples define our entire fall. We do several full days of picking, returning home with crates full, and then spend many hours cooking enormous batches of apple sauce and apple butter that we store for the winter. We bake crumbles, muffins and cakes as if life depended on it, and if we’re feeling extra inspired, we shoot for this bomb: apple sorbet. It’s fantastic.

Watch TV – but do so with intention

Can you have a TV (and use it) and still say you live slowly and mindfully, or do you need to go tech cold turkey? Of course not. We watch TV to some extent almost every day, and we’re not one bit embarrassed to say so. What we do make sure to do though, is to not ever lazy watch TV. In other words, that thing only gets turned on when we have something we actually care about and actually want to watch. We choose shows carefully and make sure they won’t leave us wired before bedtime, and, well… we watch TV with intention. Having a show to look forward to watching at night is definitely something that we love about fall. When you’re almost supposed to get cozy on the couch and there’s no daylight telling you you should be outside planting fruit trees, sowing seeds and turning the compost. Some good ones that we’ve enjoyed this year include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and After Life.

Work with affirmations to stay positive

Do affirmations work? Yes, provided you put in a tiny bit of effort. You can work with them in various ways, but we prefer setting ones and then using various ways of reminding ourselves of them. Choosing a word or a sentence that feels relevant to you is step one. This could really be anything under the sun, but some examples include “be grateful”, “I’m capable”, “self-belief” or “do good”. Write whatever resonates with you on a sticky note or random piece of paper (perhaps more than one) and place this/these where you’ll see it/them as you go through the motions of your day. This could be the fridge, by the bed, on the inside of the front door, where you put your keys, on the bathroom mirror or in your wallet, for example. The gentle reminder that a simple affirmation serves as can work wonders – even though it’s easy to underestimate their power. They can really help you focus on the right things (for you) in life, boost your self belief, make you more humble towards yourself and others and overall instill a more mindful, intentional way of living. It’s a great way to gently pull the e-break a little and prevent yourself from just rushing through life and doing things without fully knowing why. Fall often starts with a bang when you get back to work/school, and in order to not let yourself get caught in that fast spinning Monday-Friday wheel where you chase after the weekend, affirmations could be a good idea. A helpful tool to find the words that would work for you would be answering the simple question of “what do I want to dominate my life?”.

Equip yourself so bad weather won’t stop you

We don’t want to encourage unnecessary consumption, but if purchasing a high quality rain jacket would get you out the door even on “bad weather days”, we’re all for it. Ask yourself what pieces of clothing and/or equipment would actually change how you feel about typical fall weather. What do you find annoying or yourself complaining about? If your feet get wet, consider getting rain boots (there are so many trendy looking ones these days). Do you own a sturdy umbrella? If not, that’s a reasonable item to buy. Do you feel cold all the time? Well, layer up for goodness sake! There’s something so inherently female in being cold and not doing something about it, and that’s just such a waste of energy. I can definitely relate to putting looks ahead of function and comfort back in the day, but I would never in a million years do so anymore. Being dry and toasty is key to having a good time even though it’s raining cats and dogs. Because really – you can be comfortable even in bad weather. And isn’t it the discomfort we dislike, more than the actual drops of water coming from the sky?

Visit a farmers market

It’s as simple as that. You get extra credit if you also buy some produce and perhaps even make it a new routine. Nothing beats a farmers market in the early fall, when beautiful abundance best describes the scene. You’ll likely see food in ways you haven’t seen it before (who has seen how Brussels sprouts grow? How many apple varieties there really are? How differently tomatoes can look?) and you’ll be filled with appreciation for Mother Nature as you leave. You’ll be brought closer to the source of your food, perhaps introduced to some new favorite vegetables and without a doubt feel more inspired to cook and eat well. And as one big mega bonus: you’ll be supporting the small scale farmers we so desperately need more of. Also, if you truly witness the vegetable galore fall brings, perhaps it’ll be a season to look forward to more in the future. Fall gets us so excited very much thanks to the apples, pears, root vegetables and other gorgeous produce that become available. Maybe that can be you next year?

Give yourself enough time in the morning… which means going to bed at a decent time

In other words, count backwards! Giving yourself enough time in the morning means, to us, that we have enough time to do the things we’d like to do without having to rush around – which is easier said than done. What you want to have time to do in the mornings, only you can answer, but calculate how long your preferred routine actually takes and when you would need to wake up for that to happen. Don’t allow yourself to cheat here – yes, the actual shower might take five minutes but what about the hair drying, shaving and moisturizing? If you find, here, that your morning routine eats up too much of your time, where can you make improvements? Are there perhaps habits that don’t serve you that you can cut out? I, for one, never use makeup anymore. To me, it eventually just felt like one expensive and time consuming habit that really one made me feel one thing: ugly when not wearing it. So I stopped. If that’s the part of your morning routine you’d like to cut out too, we’ll leave up to you to decide, but you get the idea. When you have your desired morning laid out for yourself, count backwards to see when you need to go to bed to also get enough sleep. If you need to leave home at 8am and your routine takes 90 min, you obviously need to get up at 6:30am. If you shoot for eight hours of sleep, you’re looking at falling asleep at 10:30pm. And that’s falling asleep – not entering the bedroom at 10:30pm and then spending an hour scrolling through Instagram. At the end of the day, this is really all about setting yourself up for success. A day that starts off with stress is bound to continue in the same fashion – or at least out of a good flow. The darkness, the wall of rain, the busy commute and the hours at the office will all have a much greater negative impact on you when you hit them up all wired and lacking sleep, right?

Vegan fish tacos on a plate

These tacos are one of the our favorite ways to use celery root. Recipe found in post Vegan “Fish” Tacos With Breaded Celery Root, Cabbage and Lime Sauce.

Start cooking with a new vegetable

It’s so easy to habitually purchase the same set of vegetables over and over again – and more often than not, these will be the same no matter the time of the year. After my years of working at a grocery store, I can tell you all about the massive amounts of cucumber, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, bananas and avocado people buy, but I sure don’t have that many stories about the times people get celery root, rutabaga, beets, parsnips, Savoy cabbage or butternut squash. Ask yourself what you buy and why – because you love those vegetables so much, or because you lack inspiration or knowledge on how to prepare other ones? Fall is the perfect time to explore new vegetables, as harvest season has just ended and loaded up the produce section with so many wonderful, peak season local vegetables. Could this be the time you try something new? And even make it a staple in the future? Could you go the whole month of September and only buy locally sourced vegetables? That could be a fun (and not too difficult) challenge to get you going.

Hold on to the good vibes

Identify your personal issues with fall… and solve them. Rainy, wet weather is one thing. Getting back to work after summer vacation is another. The darkness is a third. Alrighty. So what makes spring and summer so much better? Are there perhaps routines from those seasons you can keep? What things do you do during those months that you love? Perhaps eating outside? That can be done during fall too, with the addition of a jacket and perhaps a hat if it’s windy. Going for a dip in the ocean? Those who have ever gone for a cold dip will tell you all about how invigorating that is. What else? Are you more social during summer? Less social? Bring the same habits into the fall if they serve you. Do you stop running outside and shoot for the treadmill at the gym come October? Hold on to the outdoor activities as long as you feel safe to do so! Believe it or not, but you can run just as well in 20ºC as you can in 10º, 0º and -10º. It’s easy to just fall into an overall negative attitude without realizing you can do something about it all. Yet again are we looking at a personal challenge best taken on by first asking yourself a few questions. One: what do I love so much about spring and summer that I stop doing once fall arrives? Two: What positive habits could I actually hold on to?

And now, all that’s left for us to do is wishing you a happy fall during which you’ll thrive. Spending half the year wanting the days to just go by isn’t something you’ll be looking back at fondly when time is up for real – better then to get yourself a pair of rubber boots and make friends with rain.

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