Notes from C: September

I'm one of those people that carries around a little pad of paper wherever I go. Don't you know someone like that? Well, you probably do and might not even realize it, because we "notetakers" like to keep our notes pretty secretive. Yes, we go to many lengths to protect them from the elements, but for the most part you won't see them emerge from the bag unless you peek into my cube at work and see me, head down, scribbling in the corner, or glance over at a stop light where I'm furiously jotting down the key points to my strain of thought.

Last spring I posted about my little note-taking habits {I just typed that like hobbit with a double B}, and decided that a regular blog post on some of my random thoughts might be a good way to put my notes to use. I mean, it's nice having stacks of notebooks filled with scribbles and makes me feel somewhat like Harriet the Spy, but hopefully posting regularly (monthly?) will help me someday turn these thoughts into something more productive. Some may be seasonal, some may be random, and some may be downright ridiculous ... but here we go!

Without further ado, my September Notes:

{1} Fall seems to always come as a surprise. "Oh, it's fall outside," people will exclaim as they quickly shuffle on their jackets. Maybe it's just in Minnesota where the weather changes quickly and fall is altogether rather short. Maybe it's because summer stretches out our days, our muscles, our routines, making the change a shock to our system. Whatever the reason, fall, more than any other season has this sense of urgency that sends us flying off to apple orchards; whipping up pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin-filled ravioli; lighting candles and bonfires; and trying to savor the last of the colorful trees. No other season does this to us - or at least to me. Sure, we get wrapped up in Christmas festivities, spring planting routines, and summer-loving activities, but there's no drastic switch. We slowly shift and drift into the next season: snow gradually melts, the trees start to bloom, humidity rises and the sun is high. But the moment you pull out the long sleeves and fall scarf, it's go time! That's why we're off to Vino in the Valley this weekend for a little fall wining and dining. If you're in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area, please make a trip down there sometime. It's delightful - our own little Napa, as we like to call it.

{2} Wouldn't it be fun to get all of the Carolyn's {insert your own name} together in one room? One big party with everyone who shares your name. You wouldn't have to introduce yourself to anyone, because obviously you're a Carolyn. No need to worry about forgetting someone's name either. "Sorry, and you are ...?" just doesn't exist. You could play the "favorite nickname game," all wear shirts that say "not Caroline," and sing "Sweet Carolyyyyyn da da da" because for as much as you are not a Caroline that song is still about you. There'd probably be a theme song or group choreographed dance at the Carolyn party. What would be at your party? (Just found out there's a new Carolyn at work and I would never guess that's her name. I mean, usually I can pick a Carolyn out of a crowd but this one surprised me.)

{3} Regarding the pumpkin photo above. Trader Joe's got the best of me. They were flaunting all that pumpkin stuff and I just couldn't resist. The pumpkin itself was a deal at $3.50, and the other items were total splurges. Turns out the ice cream is super sweet and won't ever make it to my bowl, but this morning I discovered that it's the perfect addition to a cup of coffee. Homemade pumpkin spice coffee! Sweetener and cream in one! I have big plans of making this granola with those pumpkin seeds.

{4} A quote from Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert
"Fear is good. In the right degree it prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. Fear is our boon companion but never our master" (205).

And I'll close with a nature quote:
"How beautiful leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days." --John Burroughs

... perhaps the same can be said for human life as well? With aches, pains and sickness, it is easy to overlook the beauty of aging, but I believe - and hope - those days may be some of the brightest in some way (so says the 28-year-old).

Pistachio Citrus Couscous

Pistachios are a powerful little nut with lots of memories tucked under that shell. From Christmas-time snacking and pistachio-crusted chicken to green-flecked ice cream on the streets of Trinidad, the pistachio has woven itself into my life.

It's a great snack for late at night - keeping both your mind and your fingers nimble, and the perfect sidekick to almost anything. Like oranges.

I came across a simple couscous salad earlier this summer over at, and it's been a staple ever since. My sisters and mom have already made it a handful of times too.

The best thing about this recipe is it's super adaptable to your tastes or whatever you have on hand. My sister has made it with apples and walnuts instead of the pistachios and oranges - something I'm looking forward to trying this fall. Actually, the original recipe calls for nectarines, but since those aren't typically in season and I don't have the patients to wait for them to ripen when they are, I opted for oranges as my standby fruit. You can see the original recipe here - I've changed a few other things like the type of greens and couscous, since I don't typically have watercress on hand and I find parmesan couscous offers a lot more flavor than plain. But for the most part it's the same Whole Foods creation.

When I made this earlier this week, we ate it alongside some brats (without the buns). Ever since I started eating brats sans buns I've been enjoying them much more. You just eat it like a sausage and dip it in mustard! Since this dish is great warm or cold, I like to bring leftovers in my lunch. I'll usually throw in a fresh handful of greens to up the salad-couscous ratio.

Let me know if you come up with any other fun adaptations!

Pistachio Citrus Couscous


1 box of parmesan couscous
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 orange, peeled and diced
handful of greens (watercress, spinach, spring mix, etc) - stems removed and leaves sliced
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot


Cook couscous according to box directions (takes approx 5 minutes), then fluff with fork and pour into large bowl. Meanwhile, chop pistachios, slice shallots, dice orange, and add them to the couscous along with the greens. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper, and olive oil (I usually put it all in a small container with a lid and shake it), then toss it with the salad.

Great warm or cold!

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