Dear November,

I love you.

Momentous things have typically happened in November – some icky (emergency surgeries, family feuds, jobs ending), some amazing (the end of student teaching, the birth of Miracle #1). The best thing about it is the time to slow down.

That’s right.
I will not be skipping the store aisles to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock.” I will be strolling from room to room of my house to the tune of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Because I will be – home with my immediate family in Myrtle Beach, and shortly thereafter, home with my Chicago family in the frigid temps of my birthplace.

In the mean time, we have fun visitors coming this month. Deanna – one of my circle, one of mine, arrives today. And the Groves family returns just in time for Thanksgiving, which also happens to be Miracle #1’s 6th birthday (what? 6?!). Let the festivities begin!

In the process of slowing down, I am repeating my participation in National Blog Post Month (“NaBloPloMo”). Since returning to work in May, my writing has been sporadic, and this project is a great way to kick-start it. I won’t beat myself up if I miss a day, but it felt great last year to post for 30 days straight. (See those entries here).

So here we go~


(Miranda set this table for a Saturday lunch with her sister…)

This morning on the radio, I caught the tale end of a program that was focusing on hospitality. I will readily own up to having the “gift.” I am excited by the prospect of having people over, and it was only until that began happening that I was truly able to feel “at home” once we moved to South Carolina. I love to light the candles, put out the serving platters, make a special recipe or two, and get my kids to pick up their toys (and my husband to go through the piles of paper – or shove it in a drawer, at least). I love when the house is alive with conversation and food and people. I even love cleaning up after everyone is gone… because the full bags of garbage, the crumbs on the floor, and the yummy party leftovers are reminders of the fun we just had.

This radio program was talking about how important it is to pass on the idea of hospitality to our kids. I’m happy to say that they, too, come a little more alive when the doorbell rings. The thought of visitors puts a certain light in their eyes. I hope it always does. Why have things – a home, a welcoming space, food enough to share, a great collection of music – if not to share?

I’m grateful for the friends we have made in this past year that feel comfortable to flop on our couch or open our refrigerator.


And, I’m grateful for pumpkin-flavored things to share. Alas, here is a hybrid recipe of several pumpkiny favorites! ~

Chicagolina Pumpkin Muffins

1 box of Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (or half of a 14 ounce can)
a generous shaking of cinnamon
a ‘splash: of pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a mini muffin pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and syrup until smooth. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

1/2 stick of butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Spoon on top of warm muffins. Eat immediately with your peeps and a steaming mug of something. Cheer with all your heart:

Happy Fall, y’all!