Fall Bucket List 2012

After six years as a barista, I will always define my seasons by Starbucks seasonal drinks. Now that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are out, I’m officially allowed to start blogging about fall! Fall is my absolute favorite season. October first is my favorite day of the year, pumpkin recipes never get old and you simply can’t beat the weather!

Right along with the change in weather this year is my change of local! I recently moved to a new neighborhood in Chicago that is absolutely beautiful. I live by some of the best patio restaurants, wine bars and extraordinary window shopping in the city. Now that I have this whole new turf to explore, on top of all the other fabulous fall activities, I feel like I need to make a 2012 Fall Bucket List.

I hope that fall inspires you to explore your neighborhood and go out and do cute things! (And yes, don’t worry, there will be a Go Do Cute Things – Fall Edition coming out soon!) Here’s my top 10 things to do this fall. I will keep you posted every step of the way.

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1. Visit a Farmer’s Market (often).    
There’s a Farmer’s Market just up the street from me and all I want to do is wear a cable-knit sweater, sip my Caramel Apple Cider and peruse the tents full of produce. And then buy a huge bouquet of fresh flowers to walk home with and put in a vase on the kitchen table.

2. Try my hand at pie crust for a completely homemade apple pie.  
I’ve attempted homemade pie crust once before and failed miserably. As a recipe blogger, this is a task I MUST accomplish. I figure if I fill it with fresh apples, even if it totally sucks it won’t be that bad. 

3. Visit a local bar for a pumpkin inspired beer. 
I thought I accomplished this goal last Halloween at Fountainhead, but it turns it out it was just beer that was served out of a pumpkin, and wasn’t actually pumpkin flavored. I hear that there are several pumpkin ales and I’m excited to try at least three of them.

4. Build up my fall wardrobe with scarves, sweaters, flannel and boots!
Can you believe I’ve never owned tall, brown, leather boots? I couldn’t either! I am desperately in need of a pair this season! I know that fall attire has been in the stores for the past month, but I’ve been trying desperately to hold off on buying it all until I had a crisp, fall saturday afternoon to spend doing so. It will be a very expensive, very fulfilling, very fantastic day I just know it!

5. Not get last in my first-ever Fantasy Football Team. (Let’s go Oak Street Jenny MacAurthors!)
I’ve only really gotten into NFL football over the past two years, but when my fiance asked if I wanted to be on his league, I was extremely excited! I asked if EmJoyable was an appropriate Fantasy Football team team and it turns out that it’s not. So I opted to pay tribute to my favorite character on The League. I was an NFL columnist for a college sports website for a while, so hopefully that counts for something. I don’t expect to win, but I would just really, really like to not get last.

6. Make pumpkin seeds that don’t suck. 
I tried them last year and they were really soggy. My goal this year is to make delicious, crispy and salty pumpkin seeds that someone might actually want to eat.

7. Eat brunch outside.
And if we’re being honest, also eat lunch, dinner and dessert outside and as often as possible. My neighborhood is lined with trees and floral arrangements and I can only imagine how beautiful it will look when the leaves start to turn. Plus, I am surrounded by brunch places with cute patio seating outlined with rod-iron fences and strings of white lights. I could eat brunch on a different patio every weekend till Christmas.

8. Make a killer DIY R2D2 halloween costume.
No one seems to believe me when I say that this costume is going to be adorable, but I promise that it is! And it’s going to be easy and cheap! I hope you’re as excited about it as I am.

9. Host a fall-themed party (and make a few friends to invite to said party). 
I’m not exactly sure what this means. All I know is that I bought six wine glasses, so that will clearly be involved. There will certainly be pumpkin flavored snacks, a craft table (yes, like Mrs. Dunphy on Luke’s birthday on Modern Family) and probably a screening of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” I just know it will be great.

10. Blog about ALL of these things!
I know I’ve been a total slacker lately and that makes me very sad. So I am making an honest vow to be better! No one likes a blogger that doesn’t blog. Let’s have a great fall together!

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What things are you hoping to do this fall?!

Get After It

The closest I’ve ever gotten to making a bucket list was a list I made in 7th grade of dream dates I wanted to go on with cute boys one day — 90% of which I’m sure were pulled directly from “A Walk to Remember.” I’m not sure where that list is now, but I would say there’s a pretty good chance I did most of them (knowing me and my continued efforts to do as many cute things as physically possible). 

Anyway, a few weeks ago, my friend Chrissy told me she made a bucket list. I’m not sure if it was the fact that she had a bucket list at all or the fact that one of the things on the list was to see a NFL game at every stadium in the country, but by the time she was done reading, I had decided that I wanted one too. 

It’s not that I need a list to do awesome things in my life, but the list just helps me remember all the awesome things that I want to do so that I can plan accordingly. Plus, once I commit to something, I have a really hard time quitting it. (I’d like to draw your attention to my days in the school band, which lasted four years longer than I actually enjoyed playing the clarinet.) So if I write down that I will do something, there’s a good (at least much better) chance that I will do it.

I haven’t actually made my bucket list yet, and for a few reasons. The first is that I want it to be on a pretty, preferably sparkly, sheet of scrapbook paper, and I don’t have that yet. The second is that I don’t want my list to be too extreme that I’ll never accomplish it, but I don’t want it to be so easy that I’ll finish it next year. That’s a hard balance! 

What I do have right now is an InnerVision file. What is my InnerVision file? It’s a plain manilla folder that sits in my floral file holder box under my desk.

Inside though, it’s my dreams, ambitions and passions. Some are written nicely on colorful notecards, some are magazine articles, pictures or other memorabilia, but each thing is a reminder of what I want my life to be. Everything in my folder is something I want to do with my life or something I want to keep doing. I have everything from “Start a blog” (check!) to a book I got from Bloomberg (my ultimate career goal).

This idea was brought to me by a very incredible family. A family that values life, love and the pursuit of happiness. This family is not my own, but for several defining years of my life, they easily could have been. 

I would like to thank Mr. Melgreen for this inspiration, and his daughter/my friend Ms. Melgreen (since she’s an elementary school teacher now!) for passing it on to me. I just re-read the original email that inspired me to start my InnerVersion folder several years ago. My folder is a little different than the original inspiration, but I think the spirit of it holds strong. I took a lot away from that one email, but this part really explains why I wanted and needed an InnerVision file.

Life has a way of getting in the way of our dreams … You are just living, but you’re not living the life you dreamed of. So every now and then you pull out your InnerVision file and glance through it and you realize …. I always intended to add cute little pictures of children at play on the hallway wall, but I haven’t yet. I haven’t had coffee on a Saturday morning for months anywhere but home. You will also be reminded of things you are doing that were a part of the dream.

The thing that is amazing is how thoughts and dreams you have when your younger stay valid almost your whole life — even if you dont always do them.

Every once in a while, I go through my folder. Looking at the contents reminds me of what I want out of life. It’s a little different than a bucket list, in that a lot of the things can’t be checked off. I use it as a life guide, to be sure that I keep making time for the things I love no matter how crazy life gets. It helps remind me why I love the things I love, and every time I open it, it re-inspires me to accomplish my goals.

[I hope I got it right, Mr. Melgreen! =) Thanks, again!]

So whether it’s a bucket list, an InnerVision folder, a notebook or a Word doc., I hope that you keep a list of your hopes and dreams so you can always remember where your heart lies. 

So get after it!