16.) – 19.)

16.) The Prelude to Fall – Fall in Austin is totally unbeatable. I mean it, it is absolutely hands-down my favorite season anywhere, and Texan fall has a different personality (and lasts a lot longer) than northern autumns. Austin fall is the intersection of pretty much all of my favorite things. First of all, the weather is indescribably beautiful: it finally gets cool enough to play outside (and start logging those long runs!) but is still warm enough to be comfortable, the sun starts to slink lower in the sky and goes from blaring red-hot to a soft, gentle gold. After the summer heat, fall is a breath of fresh air. Add to that the fact that it’s also the season of my favorite sport (football!) and my favorite holiday (Halloween!), as well as one of my favorite flavors (pumpkin-flavored-anything!), and sprinkle in some of my favorite road races (Livestrong 5K, Turkey Trot, etc.) and you’ve got one happy season. So it’s not quite fall yet…but it’s coming. The first Longhorns game was today, the high for Monday is 94 degrees, and the stores are Labor-Day-saleing away their summer stock. It’s what I like to call the Prelude to Fall. 🙂

17.) Scrubs – my sister is a nurse, and she has often said that one of her favorite things about her job is that she gets to wear scrubs to work. Besides their PJ-comfort appeal, she also never has to plan too hard about what to wear to work. This semester I’ve been placed in a local nursing facility, and I was overjoyed when they told me that if I’d like to, I could wear scrubs. So today, my sister took me scrub shopping and showed me all the secret in’s and out’s of buying super-comfy scrubs that still look cute (and not too boxy).  Here’s to my sister, for teaching me the way of medical-wear. 🙂

18.) Getting a text/call that makes you smile – Thursdays this semester are kind of longish. I’m on campus from about 9-6, and then after waiting for the bus I sometimes don’t get home till 7 (or later). After getting home this week quite late, I went to the store to pick up a few things. It was almost closing time, and the lines were very long. I was tired, starving, very thirsty, and just feeling a little tense. Then I got a phone call from someone that just changed my mood around 180 degrees. Like nerve gas, the sound of this person’s voice crawled into my system and every cell in my body breathed a deep sigh of relief. It wasn’t a particularly important call (just  a “Hey while you’re at the store can you pick up this and that?”), but it warmed me nevertheless. 🙂

19.) Off-the-cuff recipes that work out awesomely! – one of my goals for fall is to finagle more vegetables into my diet, and cut back again on the meat. I was a vegetarian in high-school/college. For Lent this year my goal was to eat meat only twice a week, but fell out of that pattern this summer. Although I still eat meat, I’m trying to cut back again. So I stocked up veggies this week: eggplants, red bell peppers, turnips, leafy greens, mushrooms, along with some tofu, faux chicken, and faux sausage. Wednesday night I was dying to cook, hastily pulled a few ingredients out of the fridge, and whipped up a delectable little dish: vegan casserole (roasted eggplant and crimini mushrooms with crumbled tofu, and baked with a light spicy peanut sauce) and served over forbidden rice (pictured below). This dish did not disappoint. The veggies were roasted perfectly, the tofu added a complimenting creaminess, and the sauce was flawless: slow burning chili, a touch of sweet peanut, and not too thick. The next night was flatbread pizza topped with a cabernet –marinara sauce, faux chicken, cheese, and fresh garlic and basil. The next recipe adventure? Herb mashed turnips and potatoes. It’s so wonderful to be cooking again. 🙂

Black forbidden rice

Vegan casserole with a spicy thai peanut sauce (over forbidden rice....it's hiding!)

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