fall into it...
Is anyone as excited about fall as I am? I guess I'm still inspired by the thought of back-to-school, even though I haven't been to school in about ten years. I get really into all the new pens and pencils at Target and the fall fashions in the super mega September issues of Vogue and InStyle. I want to whip out the scarves and cords and all kinds of fall colors. I can't wait to see the leaves turning and falling. Living in Colorado, there is nothing better than going up to the mountains to see the almost neon colored aspens when they change. I do miss the rich and varied colors of the leaves in the Midwest, but there's something sparkly about autumn in the mountains.
I also love doing fall cleaning/organizing just like I would in the spring. I need to make room for all those sweaters! I also like getting things together before the holidays, because the holiday season has a way of sweeping you up in it. I feel like I get to around March and realize I hadn't gotten all the wonderful things done in the fall and winter that I had originally wanted to.
Our anniversary is also in the fall, and I remember what it was like when we got back from our honeymoon, excited to start our life together in a new place. I love that starting-over feeling. Right now, I feel like I need a bit of a fresh start this fall. I've had an insane summer and am very excited to finally be at home, ready for a new season. I can't even express how busy I was this summer, with non-stop house guests, working full time for a few weeks for the first time in a LONG time and taking a road trip out to the Midwest (22 hours each way!) for a week. It's time to get back to "ordinary time" and get ready for a fabulous year.
1. Start with sorting! With all the chaos of the summer and back to school, it's the right time now to sort and clean. I'm sure those boxes and drawers have gotten disorganized, especially if you're in a family with kids who've been out of school, using the house every day in the summer. A lot of people I know move in the fall, either for a new lease or a new adventure. Sorting and decluttering are essential when you're getting ready to move. It's no fun moving in to a new place with a bunch of old junk. Take a full day (on the weekend if that fits for you) before the holidays or before your move and put yourself to work getting your house in order. I just helped a friend clean through her clothing and it took us two whole afternoons. It was super fun and her closet and drawers resemble a department store now more than an outlet. It's exciting. And now that everything in her closet is something she loves, that fits, she's ready for those all important fall wardrobe choices. I've posted before about cleaning out your closet, so I'm trying not to repeat myself. The most important focus: the end user! Remember that when you send things to the Salvation Army, you are not sending them to a swirling black hole of a landfill. You're sending them to a person, to a person who might only have the opportunity to find that one amazing piece of clothing or that perfect accessory by your generosity. So, even if it's a "perfectly good ____" but it doesn't fit, isn't right for your house (with housewares) or you don't love it, share it with those who will really treasure it.
2. Shift into fall mode. With me, this takes the form of putting my outdoor clothing within easier reach, putting the fall scarves on the top of the bin (how did those wool winter scarves make it to prime closet real estate over July? weird...), switching to a few fall shoes at the bottom of the stairs and storing my sandals in my upstairs closet, replacing some of the beachy scented candles with pumpkin scents and looking into buying a new welcome mat with some gorgeous fall colors. I also like to find those little fall accessories in my decorating bins and make sure they're in perfect shape for the fall holidays, dusted and clean. I can also see if I need to replace any of my pumpkin window decals! I also have to get my fall football gear ready... I'm working on getting a Game Day dress this year!
3. Your wheels. This may seem like a little bit of a strange one, but hear me out. If you're a mom, you're really feeling this right now. In the fall, your car can be a swirling vortex of uniforms, forgotten lunches and forgotten homework. There might even be a deflated beach ball in the trunk. For everyone else, I'm sure your car has taken a beating this summer. At nighttime, it seems like the front of your car is covered with super glue that gets every mosquito and grasshopper on the planet stuck to it. And if you've taken a summer road trip like we did, you know that it can take a toll on a car. Plus, when you're in summer vacation mode, it's easy to forget things like changing the oil or doing a 30,000 or 60,000 mile tuneup. It's time to get on that! Check your tire pressure and fill up if needed (you get better mileage that way), change whatever filters need changing, check that you're on schedule for oil changes, fill up the windshield washing fluid, put a warm blanket and a hat and mittens in the trunk and move the ice scraper to the back seat.
4. Outside and In. My porch right now looks really pretty, with the planters from the summer still out, but if you look a little bit closer you can see just what full sun exposure does to herbs over a hot summer. Not good. That definitely needs to go! The porch furniture is also really dirty from all the afternoon storms we've had this season. They could use a good scrub. The grill is well used, and not exactly ready to be put away, but it could certainly stand to be cleaned. I also have to make sure the heater switch is on in my water heater closet to get ready for the colder temps. The windows are also a little messy from all the houseguest fingerprints (lots of little ones and licks from the dog!) and there's nothing I like more than seeing the golden fall sunlight in the house during the day, so a scrubbing we'll go! The entryway could use a little mop and, as mentioned above, I could stock our little shoe storage area with some wellies and sneakers and switch out the flip flops. It's great to have those areas of the house all neat and pretty for the holiday busyness that's about to descend on us.
5. Keeping entertained. I have some music that inevitably reminds me of fall. I bought Bjork's album Debut in the fall of 1993, so it will forever remind me of fun high school days, tramping the woods on campus and eating crab apples until we got sick. Mazzy Star reminds me of Homecoming and bonfires and crushes. And naturally, I can't get enough of October Project this time of year. They're a 90s band really worth discovering! I like to change up my ipod a little, change my computer wallpaper to something festive and start putting spooky movies on my queue to reserve them before everyone else remembers that it's nearly Halloween!
6. Make a list. This is probably the most important. By the time Christmas rolls around, I realize that I haven't done most of the fun fall things that I wanted to do, cheap or expensive, simple or complex. This year is the first time I'm going to make a list of all the things I love doing in the fall and try to check a few off. That list for me includes... going to see a local dinner theater production of Into The Woods (can't wait!), going to a CU football game (go Buffs!), doing something fun for Oktoberfest, making some pies, going to our friend's farm stand to pick up some late season tomatoes and melons, watching the World Series somewhere (anybody want to volunteer their tv?), putting together outfits with cute scarves, finishing our community book this year "The Worst Hard Time" (it's excellent, btw), picking a pumpkin, roasting the seeds and stuffing them in my face, watching the scariest movie I can handle on Halloween, finding just the right Halloween costume, participating more in our church youth group that's getting pumped for the new school year, driving up to Estes Park to see the elk, the aspens and some good friends, with a few caramel apples thrown in, finding the perfect fall hair color (loving a blonde-y ginger now) and definitely drinking Starbuck's caramel apple cider every opportunity I get!
7. Start with a clear mind. Ok, maybe making a list of what you're hoping to do this fall is important, but not as important as getting mentally ready for right now. With a clean house, a new look and some new entertainment, it's awesome to start with a new heart. Maybe it's time to archive your old journal (I usually just throw them out). Maybe it's time to clear out your memory boxes or things that just don't fit with where you are today (old artwork, letters, pictures). Maybe it's time to rededicate yourself to your spiritual path. Inject some energy into your daily prayer and scripture! Perhaps it's the right season to get rid of old habits and attitudes. There's a good reason our Jewish friends start their year in the fall with a clean slate. It's time to get right with your neighbors and yourself. If you haven't made amends for some boneheaded thing you did this summer, get on it. If you haven't forgiven others' boneheaded actions, think about it. I'm personally trying to give up cursing and OMG for good, but we'll see! This is not just for the spiritual minded among us, it's also for anyone who wants to clean up their act. Why not use this fresh season to get yourself together?
As for me and my household... I'll be tidying up today, washing and pressing the guest linens that got so much good use over the summer, dusting off the china to get ready for the holidays, organizing my dog's toy box (not because it's fall, just because it needs it!) and loading up my ipod. What are you going to do?