It's October, yet every morning is still oppressively humid. The sky has been choked with thick gray clouds for the past week. Today I woke up, showered, then realized that with the humidity at 90%, my hair would take hours to air-dry. I got out the blow-dryer, which I almost never do, and ended up looking like a Korean boy-band member, my hair simultaneously lank and feathered. Now for my makeup--but thanks to the film of moisture all over my face and neck, nothing would stick. Each product melted off before I'd finished putting the next one on. Finally I resigned myself to mascara and matte lipstick and headed out the door. After a fifteen-minute walk, every inch of my skin felt clammy. My hair was still wet. I tried to take off my blazer, but the cloth was clinging so closely to my bare forearms that the lining of one of the sleeves ripped loudly. To hell with this weather.
Because of the persistent cloud cover, I haven't been able to take photos for the next post I was planning to write. What better excuse to do the Autumn Tag, which I found on Liz's blog? When it's not humid as Satan's nostril, autumn is by far my favorite season. Because even when it is that humid, you can still see this sort of thing:
1. What's your favorite seasonal drink from Starbucks or another coffee shop?
Every fall I buy one Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, take a sip, and think, "Ah, so this is why I buy only one a year." Despite my fierce sweet tooth, I don't like most sugary coffee drinks; I'd rather have a cupcake or something. I do love the occasional mocha, though.
2. Accessories--what do you opt for: scarves, boots, or gloves?
Scarves are my favorite of these three! Since so much of my wardrobe is black or gray, I like brightening up my look with a scarf. As you can see, I've amassed more scarves than any one neck needs in a lifetime.
3. Music--What's your favorite music to listen to during autumn?
There are a few songs I find myself playing more often when the weather gets cooler, either because they mention autumn or because they remind me of autumns past. Chief among these are Beirut's "Vagabond," Belle & Sebastian's "Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie," Janelle Monáe's "Electric Lady," and David Garza's "Discoball World." I've also been exploring the vast, gleaming world of kpop this year, and have spent more of the last two days than I'd care to calculate listening to Ailee's "U&I" on repeat. (Though Spica is my first, last, and only true k-love.)
4. Perfume--what's your favorite scent for this time of year?
I don't own or wear enough perfume to have seasonal scents, but I think L'Artisan Safran Troublant is the perfect fall perfume. It smells like Indian ice cream: saffron, rose, and vanilla. I treasured every drop of a sample I got from Aedes de Venustas a couple of years ago.
5. Candles--what scents will you be burning this season?
Diptyque Feu de Bois is my favorite candle year-round (and one of two scented candles I own, the other being Diptyque Violette), but it feels particularly appropriate to fall and winter. This is one of the bb Diptyques; I might spring for a full-sized FdB eventually.
6. What do you love most about autumn?
Halloween, my birthday, plum and berry lipsticks, all things pumpkin, the golden light of early evening, the clatter of acorns on the sidewalk, a campus covered in fallen leaves, and a new semester in which I haven't yet committed any social blunders or deadline infractions.
7. Favorite makeup look?
Everything plum and gold and brick-red and bronze. I've lost the desire to wear any lipstick that isn't Topshop Get Me Bodied. Here it is today, with mascara and the traces of Sleek Flushed blush that managed to stick to my cheeks. Plus maple leaves!
8. What are you looking forward to most in autumn?
Traveling to Bloomington, IN, to visit a dear friend from college. We're going to see Mockingjay in costume because we're huge dorks. I'm dressing as Effie Trinket, obviously.
And now for a very autumnal recipe! The café in my undergrad library (an outpost of a popular Pioneer Valley coffee shop) sold dome-shaped pumpkin-walnut-chocolate-chip cookies that were the perfect little snack for a study break. There were many great things about my alma mater's library--lofty vaulted wooden ceilings, stained-glass windows bearing Renaissance printers' seals, comfortable chairs everywhere, my beloved thesis adviser downing triple espressos and scolding noisy first-years--but those cookies may have been the best thing of all. Two years ago, nostalgia prompted me to try and recreate them. I started from this recipe but adapted it significantly. The original calls for a full cup of sugar and two cups of chocolate chips; at that point, you might as well just make a pan of brownies.
I had no chocolate chips for the batch I made last night, so I substituted half a cup of chopped Green & Black's white chocolate, which was obviously a good life choice. Also, in typing up this recipe just now, I realized that I FORGOT THE BAKING POWDER. It's a testament to the forgiving nature of this recipe that the cookies turned out fine--just a bit softer and more cake-like than usual. Here's a photo, though I beg you not to let my poor food-photography skills (and the fact that I probably underbaked the cookies) bias you against the recipe. These cookies are absolutely delicious. And they stay moist forever, provided you store them in an airtight container.
(Update, 11/7: I made them again and remembered the baking powder, which produced a more appetizing-looking batch, shown below.)
1 cup plain canned pumpkin
Generous 1/2 cup sugar
Scant 1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg (slightly less if using freshly grated nutmeg)
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or to taste)
1/2-3/4 cup chopped walnuts (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Dissolve baking soda in milk and stir into pumpkin mixture. Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Add vanilla and, if using, chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by spoonfuls (I used an ice cream scoop) onto a greased cookie sheet; bake at 350° until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Makes about 20 smallish cookies.