Well, sheesh. I had planned to write about my adventures in Germany here by now (there’s a story about a lost rental car key to share), but time got away from me. Instead, there have been what seem like endless days of jet lag recovery, whirlwind work trips, and the fall spider invasion to contend with, all on top of editing a lovely book by Rachel Macy Stafford that releases next spring. So–a busy month. And here we are, one day away from my favorite month of all: October. Lest I digress into a mournful diatribe about how the trees here in Memphis are still almost fully green, I’ll move on into what I’ve been loving this month, aside from the descent into cool mornings that says autumn has finally arrived in the Mid-South.
Cappuccino. I’ve always been a little suspicious of cappuccino, thinking it seemed a little too “everyman,” but while in Germany earlier this month, I followed the advice of a dear friend and ordered one at an Italian cafe in Esslingen. It was lovely and frothy, the perfect balance of coffee and milky goodness. And the foam–oh, the foam. I may never drink another latte. Now, to be honest, I have yet to get a cappuccino in the States as good as those I drank in Europe. The foam at Starbucks is a little too much like overwhipped egg whites. But I continue asking them to make my foam “really soft,” and they’re getting better at it.
Morning baths. Confession: since returning from Germany, I’ve only taken two showers, one because I was in a hurry and one because I was in a hotel in Nashville where there was no bathtub (also, hotel bathtubs tend to be ridiculously shallow). No, I haven’t cut back on personal hygiene. It’s simply that I have discovered that baths don’t have to be relegated to weekend evenings after the kiddos are in bed. The therapeutic properties of immersing oneself in a tub of warm water can be a daily thing. My sister-in-law’s house in Germany has a fabulous bathroom–with a skylight!–including a six-foot tub. You can literally lie on your back and float. She told me, “You need to try my tub.” So I did. In fact, most mornings while we were there, I took a bath instead of a shower. And when I came home, I just didn’t want to give up my new habit. A few tips for a morning bath: 1. Make the water warm, not hot. You don’t want to start sweating. 2. Bring your coffee and morning reading (unless it’s on an electronic device). 3. Spend a few minutes in silence, and really let the water do its thing, calming and clearing your mind even as it wants to race forward into everything that’s waiting on your daily to-do list.
Emma Bridgewater Pottery. Emma Bridgewater is one of the few remaining companies producing handmade and handpainted pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, England. E got me a Black Toast teapot for my birthday, and I adore it. It’s happiness on my countertop. To shop for Emma Bridgewater in the U.S., with domestic shipping rates, try joannehudson.com.
Grocery Story Pick-Up. Several weeks ago, my friend Laura clued me in on the fact that one of my local grocery stores now offers pick-up service. It works like this: 1. You select your groceries online. 2. You choose a pick-up time the next day (a window of one hour). 3. You drive to the store at your appointed time, park in a designated space, call a number, and they come out with your groceries. 4. You pay by debit or credit card on a tablet device. 5. They load your groceries in the car for you. Friends, you never even have to get out of the car! This is a-ma-zing! It saves me valuable weekend time, money (no impulse buys), and sanity (especially when I would otherwise need to take both kids to the store with me). And so far, it’s free! (Although I would happily pay a fee to continue doing this.) I strongly encourage you to see if this is available in your area. It is GOLDEN.
James Herriot. When L was born, E’s mom bequeathed to us a copy of James Herriot’s Treasury for Children. A few months ago, we began reading it at bedtime. I have never been an “animal person” (no middle grade horse fiction ever had a place on my shelves), but I found myself loving Herriot’s stories about the people of the Yorkshire Dales. When we finished the book, I found myself wanting more, so I ordered a copy of All Creatures Great and Small. Friends, this book has incited tears, snorting, and full-on body-shaking laughter. Herriot is not just a writer of animal stories–he captures people, landscapes, and culture with perfect literary clarity. I feel like I’ve been missing out for 30 years.
Saltwater Sandals. I’ve been seeing people post about how much they love these sandals for a while, and I finally ordered a basic black pair in late August. Then my mom sent me a turquoise pair for my birthday. They are unbelievably comfortable. I wore them for miles while we were in Germany, to schlep myself back and forth across the country for work, and have continued to sport them even as the weather has begun to cool. I’m planning to order some for L and H at the beginning of next summer. For now, if you live anywhere south of the Canadian border, it’s worth telling yourself these are a cute addition to your fall wardrobe.
How to Celebrate Everything. I’ve been waiting years–literally–for this, Jenny Rosenstrach’s next cookbook, which released just 10 days ago. I love her approach to family dinner, and there’s not a recipe in her arsenal that my gang doesn’t like. I’m slowly reading my way through this new tome, flagging recipes to try and making a mental list of potential new family rituals to jazz up our shared life. If you’re not familiar with Jenny’s blog, Dinner: A Love Story, or her first cookbook of the same title, please, PLEASE do yourself a favor and check them out. If the house burned down, DALS would be the first cookbook I’d replace. And with over 130 cookbooks on my shelves, that’s saying something.
That’s it for this month! I’ll be back next week with a spine-tingling tale involving a Mercedes, some gelato, and how studying a foreign language in high school is never a waste. See you then!