Autumn Bucket List / ABCs of Autumn

interactive fall foliage prediction map from

Now that I'm back from Chicago, Jon and I are planning to dive straight into autumn - and autumnal activities! September was really crazy, so we're looking forward to October being slightly less harried (though, realistically, probably just as full). Our biggest adventure will be driving down to North Carolina to visit my sister, who's in her last year of law school at Wake Forest, but we've got a few day trips in the works, too, as well as smaller home-based activities. Here's what we'll be up to over the next two months:

Apple picking - one of Mom's favorite early-fall activities. She's already been twice this season! I'm hoping to go with her before all the apples are gone.

Bluegrass - my sister suggested driving out to Asheville while we're in North Carolina, and I'm so excited to experience some mountain music in its natural habitat.

Cider - I read about Millstone Cellars, north of Baltimore near the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, in Martha Stewart Living last year, and we're finally going to set aside a day to go! A friend from college recently moved to Philadelphia with her boyfriend and I'm hoping we can meet in the middle there for a long-overdue catch up.

Decorating for the season - I haven't made a new wreath in ages and ages, and I'm starting to feel the itch again. (Sorry, Jon.)

Evenings without technology - I still have three needlework projects to finish and they need to be done by the end of October, so I'm going to make an effort to pick up a canvas instead of my laptop or phone more often after dinner.

Football - this is Jon's submission to the post, as he warns me that he'll start disappearing into crappy bars on Sunday afternoons and will reappear smelling like stale Miller Lite and buffalo wings.

Great Pumpkin - I've never seen this Charlie Brown classic, so one night in the next few weeks we'll pull it up on Netflix and both Jon and I will experience this American staple of the season. (Don't worry, Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas are an annual event for my family.)

Harper's Ferry - we're going to take Charlie for a day trip up to Harper's Ferry some weekend soon. We'll spend most of the day hiking, I think, but I'm also excited to do a little antiquing! (Jon will have to stay outside with Charlie when I go into shops, which works out well for all three of us.)

Initiate Christmas shopping - if Jon had his way, we wouldn't start thinking about Christmas presents until the winter solstice. I prefer everything to be sorted earlier. Raise your hand if you're surprised by this. No one? Yeah.

Jump into a pile of leaves - my parents' backyard is the perfect place for this. I just need to promise to rake before and after!

Kayaking on the Potomac - I've always wanted to rent a kayak from the Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown and paddle up the river to the monuments.

Leaf peeping - I'm sure we'll check this off our list over Columbus Day Weekend!

Mac and cheese - coming out of the Whole30, I know I'll need to continue limiting dairy and that I should cut back on grains... but homemade mac and cheese with peas and mushrooms and bacon is definitely worth the splurge.

National Arboretum - Jon's never been, and I'm sure this "living museum" will be especially gorgeous all decked out in its fall colors!

Oo - as in "Boo at the Zoo," of course! We'll head to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, which is literally a five minute walk from our apartment, on October 23rd to enjoy treat stations, animal demonstrations, keeper chats, and decorated trails at this fun Halloween event.

Pumpkin carving!

Quiet mornings - I'm not singing at St. John's Church through the fall just because my work schedule is too erratic to allow me to commit to showing up at rehearsals and services regularly. I still want to reserve Sunday mornings for calm and contemplation, though, as that time is really precious.

Renaissance Festival - the Maryland Renaissance Festival is legendary around here, but I've never been. This was actually Jon's suggestion! So much for my MA in Medieval Studies, huh?

Stews - I'm so looking forward to getting my braise on again, and cooler weather is the perfect opportunity to set my big orange pot to simmer for a few hours on the stove. This New York Times Cooking collection of recipes will get me started!

Tashlich - Taschlich comes from the Hebrew word "to cast," and is a ritual performed on Rosh Hashanah in which one's sins, represented by bread crumbs, are cast into a body of water. I can't join my synagogue's taschlich ceremony, but Jon and I are going to hold our own and will make a personal service out of the ancient custom.

Upcycle - my nesting instincts always get super strong when the weather cools down, but we're saving up for a big new piece of furniture and so I need put all of our discretionary "home" money towards that purchase. I'm sure there's plenty in my home (and - let's be honest - my parents' home) that can be repurposed or upcycled, though, so I'm not just twiddling my thumbs!

Vinyard - I feel like an alcoholic because we already have "cidery" on this list, but Jon and I do love our local wineries! If we don't get to this until after all the leaves have fallen, we'll pick one that has a super cosy inside space where we can hole up with a tasting flight for an afternoon. I think we might try Stone Tower Winery in Loudon County, where dogs are allowed inside the Harvest Barn.

Winston-Salem - I'm embarrassed that I haven't made it down there yet, but I'll finally see where my sister's been living for the past few years!

eXplore the new National Museum of African American History and Culture - technically, tickets through the end of the year have already all been reserved. I'm hoping that one of my Smithsonian friends can sneak me in, though, because it's supposed to be absolutely incredible.

Yarn projects - Just kidding! I can sew and quilt, needlepoint, and cross-stitch... but I have no desire to learn to knit. But my mom is knitting me a beautiful shawl and I shall wear it with pride.

Zucchini bread - I discovered food blogger Kate of Cookie and Kate on Instagram a few weeks ago and spent some time last weekend browsing her site in preparation for the end of my Whole30. I went through my annual zucchini phase a little earlier and harder than usual this summer and, as a result, haven't had much at all since Labor Day Weekend. But I'm getting the yen again, and her zucchini bread recipe will fill the void perfectly!