No one moves to the Midwest for the weather. In the heartland, we have hot summers and cold winters. But in the fall, there are a few days so perfect, I swear I’d never live anywhere else. The trees are ablaze, the sky is azure blue, and the air is crisp and cool, sweetened with the smell of falling leaves and wood smoke. This year, I’m resolving to thoroughly enjoy autumn. I hope you will join me. Here are some ideas to inspire us…


One of my favorite rituals every year is lighting the first fire in the hearth. Dan and I like to relax in front of the fire on fall evenings, catching up on each other’s days. My friend Lisa’s living room, pictured above, is perfect for fall. I want to curl up on her sofa next to the crackling fire.


As the days grow shorter, I can’t wait to cocoon at home during the quiet evenings. I get my cottage ready by switching out my summer pillow covers with those that feature the fabrics of fall. Menswear fabrics are my absolute favorite.

I don’t think you can walk five feet in my cottage without seeing a plaid throw. And, on fall mornings, you’ll see me wrapped up in one as I sip my first cup of coffee and watch the sun rise over our little lake. It’s one of my greatest pleasures.


October is a perfect month for an al fresco dinner party. The weather is still mild enough that you can linger outside, wrap up in a blanket. A few years ago, Dan and I had a small dinner party with a few friends, and decided the perfect venue would be our front patio.

We filled the patio with candles and lanterns to give the outdoor dining room a romantic glow. My friends know I can’t cook, so sometimes we divide dinner party duties. I set the scene, and they bring the food. My friend Tracy brought the most amazing pumpkin soup and apple tarts.



Did you ever go to the pumpkin patch when you were a kid? Go again this year! Pick up pumpkins, gourds and other fall favorites to display around your home. I displayed mini gourds on this dessert server at my cottage.

Mother Nature is very generous with us in the fall. Go on a hike and look for beautiful natural treasures you can display in your home, like wildflowers, fall leaves, nuts, berries, and empty bird’s nests.


What better thing to do on a fall weekend than to pack the picnic basket and head out to the country or a park to enjoy nature up close and personal? If you have the time and inclination, make your picnic something to remember, with a basket filled with china, crystal and silver. A bottle of bubbly, apples and pears, cheese and artisan bread, are all you need.


Even if I don’t have the time to decorate my home’s interior for the season, I always dress up the front porch. I think a lovely exterior display is a friendly wave to passersby, and a warm greeting for guests.

Enjoy fall, my friends!


This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at



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