October 1, 2015

31 Things I Love (That You Might Love, Too)

Based on extensive research--namely, scrolling Facebook--I've figured out that this "take the challenge of writing about the same subject every day in October" thing is, in fact, a Thing. I think it's officially called 31 Days.

But this is not that Thing.

I do love to make blog lists, though (which is why most of my blog posts are lists). I was mulling over a "things I'm thankful for" list, but I'm sure that's been done or is being done or both. As well it should be. I've also been thinking about a "favorite faith-building resources" post, and I still might get to that at some point. 

But in the interest of 1)doing something on this blog every day of October and 2)thinking about things I'm thankful for, I settled on this list of loves. Which would be totally self-indulgent except that I'm hoping you might end up loving something on this list, too. 

(Although it goes without saying, I want to say it anyway: this is a list of mere things. My affection for these does not in any way compare with the heart-wrenching, soul-changing love I have for my family.)

Since this isn't a 31 Days project, I figure I can set this up any way I want. And the way I want is just to add to this post-in-progress every day this month and put the daily "thing" up on Facebook and Pinterest. By the time we get to October 31st, I'll have a complete list...and maybe you'll have a few new things you love, too.

(Which reminds me: what do you already love? Please share! It could be something that will change my life but I don't even KNOW about it yet!)

1. "October," by Eric Whitacre

I already put this autumnal anthem on my "What I'm Hoping to Do This Fall" post, but I can't think of a better #1 item for a love-list that's set this month. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Play it in the background of whatever else you're doing, and it will make your whole day better. 
"October is my favorite month. Something about the crisp autumn air and the subtle change in light always makes me a little sentimental, and as I started to sketch I felt that same quiet beauty in the writing. The simple, pastoral melodies and subsequent harmonies are inspired by the great English Romantics (Vaughn Williams, Elgar) as I felt that this style was also perfectly suited to capture the natural and pastoral soul of the season." (Eric Whitacre)
2. Cozy, fuzzy sheets on the bed. Goodbye, crisp cotton of spring and summer; hello, sleeping in a hug. These Berkshire Bedding Microloft sheets are supposed to be "the new alternative to flannel"--warmer, softer, and more breathable. The bad news about them is that they
make getting out of bed at least 200% more painful. But they making getting into and being in bed (already two of life all-time great pleasures), about 1000% more wonderful.

***Bonus love related to #2 + tie-in to #1: "Sleep" by Eric Whitacre. The most gorgeous grown-up lullaby.

3. Maple Apple Cinnamon Muffins
 Need muffin therapy?
Click here to print the recipe.
4. Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. 
I'm saving Lloyd-Jones' brilliant Jesus Storybook Bible for another list, but her "gorgeous and innovative collection of 101 simple-yet-profound thoughts on faith" is one of our family's dearest treasures. For children but absolutely not just for children, this lovely book is full of wisdom and inspiration. For instance...
"Did you know that leaves aren't really green? They only seem that way. Each leaf contains chlorophyll--the green color that captures light and turn ti into food for the trees. It's this green that hides the leaf's true color. In the autumn, trees produce less chlorophyll, the green fades, and so the leaves show their true colors--blazing reds, yellows, and golds! The leaves were always those brilliant colors--we just couldn't see them. And the Bible says you can't see all you really are either. But one day, when God mends His broken world once and for all, you'll be all He made you to be-and then your true colors will come shining through." ("True Colors," from Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing, by Sally Lloyd-Jones)

5. Deliberate gratitude.

6. Saigon cinnamon. Sweeter and more aromatic than the supermarket or dollar-store version, this cinnamon upgrade is worth tracking down just for the pleasure of inhaling its spicy scent. I've ordered it from King Arthur Flour (they call theirs Vietnamese cinnamon), but I also loved what I got from Amazon for about a third the price. Take your pick, but get your hands on some before you get much further into fall and winter baking. This is what the holidays smell like.

7. Tree of Life necklace. My gifted and talented friend Heather, owner of Treasure Trove Jewelry (TTJJewelry on Etsy), put up a picture of this gorgeous piece on Facebook a few months ago, and my sister commented that she loved it. I ordered one for her for her birthday, and when she opened it at a family party, I commented that I loved it, too. A few weeks later, when I got in the car after church, a box with this necklace--my necklace--was sitting on the front seat. The preface to this story is this: 1)my sweet husband and I met 22 years ago at the back of the sanctuary of the same church we still attend; 2)Heather and her family also attend this church; 3)after I remarked on how much I loved the necklace, my husband secretly ordered one from Heather; 4)when he gave it to me, he told me it was a slightly belated "happy day-we-met 22nd anniversary" gift. And the moral of the story as I told it to the middle- and high-school girls in my Sunday School class? Go to church, meet a nice guy, then he buys you jewelry. Love it..and him.

8. BarkTHINS Snacking Chocolate. I've been looking over this list and have noticed a disturbing lack of chocolate. Well, I'm fixing that right quick with this entry. I find these addictive chocolate shards at my local grocery store--which is saying something because I live in a "city" that doesn't even have an Olive Garden. My point is that these are readily available, fair-trade, non-GMO, and entirely beneficial to mental health. Looking for a fall tie-in? Try the Pumpkin Seed version.

9. This mum from my mom.

10. Our road in autumn.

11. Lovely Thanksgiving ornamentation. Naturally, if you're seeing any kind of craft on Guilty Chocoholic Mama, it's going to come from someone else. This one comes from The Deliberate Mom Jennifer...and as a Canadian, she's already put her banner to use. Those of us on U.S. soil have a few more weeks to get ours together. Either way, if you're looking for a beautiful, autumnal DIY deco project, check out Jennifer's post "How to Make a Gorgeous Thanksgiving Banner." I'm going to attempt this in preparation for hosting my in-laws for the great feast, so it goes without saying that intercessory prayer would be appreciated. At least I know I've got my pumpkin pie recipe down.

12. Moms' wisdom-for-all-seasons. Next up: course curriculum for a PhD in Maternal Studies.

13. Big-sister/little-sister Homecoming photo op. 
When you're a young mom in the grocery store, and older moms look at your baby and tell you, "It goes by so fast...in a moment, she'll be all grown up," this is one of the moments they're talking about.

14. October nights. As in..."Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!" (Humbert Wolfe, and no, I'd never heard of him until now. But I love this quote. So a list of Things I Love seemed like a good place to put it.) 

15. Our barn quilt square.
So our old farmhouse came with an old stone house/spring house/milk house that's one of my favorite features of the place. What was once a large window on the back had been covered over with a square of sheet metal. Which had not bothered me, but was, apparently, driving my mother to distraction. When barn quilt squares started showing up on (appropriately enough) barns in our area, she told me she was having one painted for me to replace the hated metal square, and I picked a "star mosaic" pattern. My parents took our actual house paint to the artist for an exact match, and now the much-maligned piece of metal is history. Note that we didn't put this on our barn...these pieces can be sized to fit pretty much any structure. Wander around these links for a while to find everything you'll ever want to know about barn quilt squares, including how to make your own if you're a crafty type.

16. Apple-butter aroma therapy. Thanks to my
Photo credit: Cooking Light/
Becky Luigart-Stayner; Cindy Barr
mama for reminding me how much I love the smell of simmering apple butter. Load this honey-infused, overnight version from Cooking Light into your slow-cooker before you go to bed, and wake up to apple-y comfort.

17. Apple pie. I've made Nancy Baggett's "Favorite Deep-Dish Apple Pie" from The All-American Dessert Book for a few years now, but for a recipe that my blogging friend Karen says tastes just like her grandma's, see "What I'm Hoping to Do This Fall," item #7.

18. "Come Alive (Dry Bones)." This Lauren Daigle song is a new all-time favorite in our house. If you haven't read the story behind the song in a while--or, ever--check it out here

19. Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte shower gel from Bath and Body Works. Okay, thus far, I think I've done pretty well not to load this list with pumpkin this and pumpkin that. But it's time to give in, and this is the way to do it.

20. Frozen Cathedral, by John Mackey. Contemporary American composer John Mackey was asked by John Locke, Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, to write a concert closer for a 2013 performance of the school's Wind Ensemble. Mackey thought, "I can do that." Locke asked him to make the piece so powerful that, when it was over, the audience would immediately stand to its feet. Mackey thought, "I can do that." Locke asked Mackey to dedicate the piece in honor of Locke's late son. And Mackey thought, "I can't do that." Ultimately, Mackey's wife guided him toward the idea of mountains--which Locke's son had loved--being a sacred place for some people. Thus Frozen Cathedral was born, written, and given its world premiere on March 22, 2013. This is not just music, and the 15 minutes it will take you to listen to it are worth it for the journey from darkness into light.

21. Giving Thanksgiving its due. I don't want to talk about Christmas right now, but not because I'm anti-Christmas. I'm just very pro-Thanksgiving, and I don't like to brush past it as something that needs to be done and cleared out of the way to make room for the next thing. A season for everything, a season for everything...

22. The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. "[God] is not moody or capricious; He knows no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us. He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners. False gods--the gods of human manufacturing--despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. But of course this is almost too incredible for us to accept. Nevertheless...through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved son. This the Good News, the gospel of grace."

23. Falling for Rapunzel, by Leah Wilcox. In the category, "Children's Books That I, Personally, Prefer To Goodnight Moon."

24. Crackling wick candles. Like having a campfire right in your living room. Without the mess or, you know, the fire department.

25. Cheater Apple Cinnamon Pancakes. 
The cheat is a "complete" pancake mix. Yes, I'm that kind of mom. The apple and cinnamon are apple cider in the pancakes and applesauce in the topping and (wait for it) cinnamon in the batter. Here are the specs if you want to make a batch yourself.

Apple Cinnamon Vanilla Pancakes 
(Click here to print this if you're old-fashioned like me that way.)

2 cups complete pancake mix (I like Krusteez Heart Healthy "Light and Fluffy" Buttermilk Complete)
3/4 cup apple cider (a little less for thicker pancakes, a little more for thinner)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (see #6 on this list)
1 teaspoon vanilla
vegetable oil for frying

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Blend pancake mix, cider, cinnamon, and vanilla just until no more dry mix shows up. Lumps are your friend. Cook in a well-oiled skillet until golden on both sides. For the topping, mix the applesauce and syrup and heat for a few seconds in the microwave until warm. Spoon over the pancakes. Savor the cheat. 

26. The Triple Chocolate Bread over at Southern Krazed. Seriously. I made some earlier today, and if I ever quit eating it tonight, I can go to bed. So I can get up and have more FOR BREAKFAST. Made with cocoa powder, almond milk, and coconut oil, this is health food in my book.

27. This quote from C.S. Lewis. Also, every quote from C.S. Lewis. 

28. The power of music to say what can't be said any other way. 

29. My Contigo no-spill (really!) travel coffee mug. Brilliant.

30. Sugar-free French vanilla creamer. To go in my coffee. That goes in my Contigo no-spill coffee mug that really doesn't spill. Yes, I know this fake food is evil. I don't care. I love it.

31. The best version EVER of "Itsy Bitsy Spider." By Go Fish (motto: "music for kids that doesn't drive parents crazy").

Thanks so much for letting me share some of what I love with you!
If anyone needs me, I'll be sipping my coffee with vanilla creamer, 
listening to all this music, and eating apple pie by the glow 
of my crackling candle before I climb into my fuzzy-sheeted bed.
Or, at least, I'll be wishing I was doing all that.


  1. Thanks for sharing that piece! It really was beautiful. And now I want to listen to some Vaughn Williams. :)

    1. Thanks, Jamie! :) I'm glad you liked it. Now, did you get to Vaughn Williams? ;) Blessings to you for being such a greater encourager to me!

    2. I immediately went to Pandora and listened to Vaughn Williams and Vaughn Williams like composers for a couple of hours. :) Thanks for the inspiration, that music is soul feeding!

    3. Oh, good, Jamie...glad something on my little list could contribute to the care and feeding of your soul. I'd say my work here is done. I'm going to go make cookies now to celebrate. ;)

  2. October is lovely! Flannel sheets and I do NOT get along. I like to be as cool as possible while sleeping- sheet wise and room temp wise- with a heavy quilt to weigh me down. :)

    1. Heehee. Rebekah! Even as I was adding those sheets to the list, I was thinking that some mamas do not share my affection for them! I totally understand what you are saying...and the time may come when I feel the same way. But I absolutely DO share your fondness for the cool room and that lovely weighty quilt! October blessings to you!

  3. What a fun idea! Those muffins look delicious!!! Thanks for sharing on #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup!

    1. Thank you, Heather! I've just--JUST!--been on your sweet and helpful site. Thank you for taking time to visit and for your wonderfully encouraging words to me. You have blessed me today, and I pray God blesses you in return. Thank you for so graciously hosting #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup!

  4. The apple cinnamon maple muffins look scrumptious! I'm visiting from Happiness is Homemade.

    1. Thank you, Angelique! I just dropped by your sweet hymn-sing! :) What a lovely idea...

  5. What a great idea for Write 31 Days! The Maple Apple Cinnamon Muffins look so tasty. :)

    1. Thank you, Emily! It's a bit of a "31" cheat, but it works for me! ;) Thanks for stopping by...have a lovely October!

  6. Wonderful list so far! At the top of mine would be hot cocoa with buttery toast. I have it almost every day. Sometimes twice a day! The music is beautiful and something I've never heard before. I've always been a classical music lover. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your list. :)

    1. Oh my--YES to hot cocoa with buttery toast. Breakfast this morning for me, maybe? :) Thanks for the idea! And I'm glad I could share something new with a fellow music lover. We're studying the Psalms (songs) in my ladies' Bible study and were just talking about how music conveys what mere words fall short of. Thanks so much for taking time to stop by...blessings on you for a fabulous fall!

  7. Replies
    1. Me, too! Fall never lets me down. I'm trying to savor this one and have been going around saying, "I AM NOTICING the fall colors!" Thanks for stopping by today! :)

  8. I'm all about muffins with cinnamon this time of year! When I lived in the North, I loved flannel sheets, but in Florida we just don't need them. :) Your take on 31 Days sounds like a great way to do it. I took on the challenge last year, and it was somewhat difficult to do every day!

    1. Heehee, Emily...muffins are an all-geography food, right? :) Have a lovely Floridian fall...thanks for taking time to stop by. I'm heading to your blog to see what's up right now!

  9. Lovely, lovely post. It made me want to bake, move back to Illinois or Kentucky where the leaves are so pretty this time of the year. We live in southern California now and the fall has literally dried up. Great post.

    1. Well, thank you so much, Betty! I'm sorry for your leaf-less California autumn but pray you are still able to enjoy other pleasures of the season. Thank you for taking time to stop by and to comment...I truly appreciate your kind words! Blessings to you!

  10. I must have been living under a rock or something because I didn't know the 31 days thing was indeed a thing. Perhaps this means I love variety...you know, not talking about the same thing for 31 days. ;-)
    I do love maple syrup, so I'm going to have to check out those muffins.

    1. Hahaha, Shannon...you've probably just been living real life instead of killing time on Facebook! ;) I'm going for variety here, but this is about as much of a 31 days "project" as I can handle. Thanks for stopping by...and for challenging me this morning to get at my to-do list!

  11. I've always wanted a tree of life necklace. They are so pretty! Hopefully when my kids are past the pull all jewlery stage I can get one too!

    1. Oh,my, yes, Hil. :) I remember those days very well--much to love and cherish during them, but also much to love and cherish during the days when your children just admire your jewelry from a distance! ;) Thank you for taking time to glance at my little list...fall blessings to you!

  12. Wonderful & cheerful list! Will be needed when November comes (brrr)
    Your road looks amazing!
    I hope you'll join our blog party- Idea Box:

    1. Aw, thank you, Mila! I would love to come back to the Idea Box! I've had the pleasure of attending before but don't always have posts that fit. Thank you so much for the kind invitation...I will stop by soon. Thank YOU for taking time to drop by my blog house! :)

  13. You crack me up with the Thing. Though not my style of music, it is lovely. I suppose I lack class. Well, actually I know I do. I blurted out today to a young man of color who had just been introduced to me (and had a name that for the life of me I couldn't get right), "where are you from with a name like that?" Oy...so NOT what I meant to come out. Anyway, I love all those loves. I was very impressed that you are pursuing a PhD until I saw the core curriculum. I'm sure I at least have a M.S. in that...and as a side note, the S does not s
    tand for science. Use your imagination. Looking forward to more loves. I love Autumn, anything pumpkin, and bowls. Yes, I have an unusual and unatural affinity for containers, esp bowls and my bowl cabinet is overflowing. I tried, but I just can't seem to get rid of any.

    1. Mary, YOU crack me up with pretty much every word you write--at the very least those you intend to be funny and probably some you don't. All while you still convey beautiful, serious spiritual truths. I am not worthy to bask in the glow of your giftedness, but I will gratefully do it anyway. Am still laughing over your exchange with young-man-with-mystery-name. No doubt you carried a very heavy M.S. load and are well on your way to your own PhD. Please send a picture of your container collection. I, personally, collect chocolate chips, but to each their own. I share your love of pumpkin and was actually going to try a dark-chocolate pumpkin muffin recipe this morning except that the base muffin recipe was from one of those "stock your pantry" recipe collections. And while I was looking at the rest of the recipe at an hour this morning so early it was only fit for heathens except that I was getting ready for church, I saw the directive to include 2 cups of "Basic Muffin Mix." And instantly had an answer to the question I'd asked myself while making copies from the cookbook at the library (sorry, copyright people): "Why do I need this Basic Muffin Mix recipe?" So we did not have chocolate pumpkin muffins. ANYWAY. Thanks for stopping by, dear Mary. Please come back in a couple weeks and check out the rest of this list...I promise not to write a novelette in response.

  14. Replies
    1. Thank you, Deborah! I love all these things, too...obviously. ;)

  15. This is so great Elizabeth! We share some of the same loves. I adore your street, so beautiful! Thank you for sharing with us at #ThrowbackThursday and hope to see you again this week!

    1. Thank you, Allison...you're so sweet. :) Thank you for hosting #ThrowbackThursday...I absolutely plan to be back!

  16. We have so much in common! Ok so I use complete pancake mix and add apple butter to it = YUM!!! Try it, I even wrote a blog post about it because it turned out so good, topped with cooked apples. YES please!!! So glad you linked up at Welcome Home Wednesdays Linky Party!

  17. How did I never see this post? And I'm now going to go put the flannel sheets on the bed because it hasn't gotten cold enough the past two years to snuggle into and I just don't care if it gets cold enough this year because I don't want to miss out on them again!

    1. Awwww...as ALWAYS, you are the sweetest! This was an old post that I tacked onto every day for the month of October a couple years ago. No great loss not to see it until now...I just threw it into a couple link parties for something old that's sort of new again. And yes! You should put those flannel sheets on! Have you heard the story about the girl who was praying for a husband, and so she hung a pair of pants on her headboard, hoping God would fill them? Well, maybe if you put flannel sheets on, God will send you cold weather to go with them. ;) Happy Thanksgiving, my sweet friend.


I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!