Celebrating Halloween and autumn, my favourite things to do! It’s my birthday on Halloween, I feel lucky to have been born on such a cool date. Our celebrations and food choices looked a lot different this year, six months after my husband’s stroke.
Here in Spain, November 1st is a national holiday, celebrating All Saints Day, or the Day of the Dead, so I always enjoy a bit of time off. This year because Halloween was on a Monday, the kids took that day off too so we’re currently enjoying a long weekend.
This is birthday number three in our family since Mac came back from hospital, well my Mother-in-law celebrated her birthday here in May with a trip in an ambulance to the hospital, after she fell down in the supermarket on her first full day, also her birthday which was a shame to say the least.
The visit, in general, was difficult, for reasons I will talk about in another post, but also because we were still trying to get used to a new way of eating and suddenly had other people to consider who are not on our wavelength at all where food is concerned. Their trip was the inspiration for this blog!
I hadn’t started keeping a record of what we were eating back then but as I recall, there was chicken curry (made without salt) and red velvet devil cake. Mac didn’t have any cake and the rice was pointed out to me as being ‘bland’ oh well! But, I do understand, because celebrations are always a reason to eat something special.
Food for celebrations
It was difficult to know what to cook which felt like a treat but was still healthy. When food treats have been steak and chips or rich chocolate cake, it’s hard to know what to make that doesn’t feel like second best. For Nico’s birthday, I made healthy beef burgers (really lean mince, no chips, wholemeal buns and a mountain of salad) and I adapted our homemade pizza with kale on one side and bacon on the other – it was really nice, honestly!
I love comfort food and Halloween is the perfect time to get cosy with a big bowl of something filling and satisfying. Previous birthday treats for me have been lasagne, bolognese, beef stew or fajitas which I had on my 40th. I remember making an Indian feast one year with absolutely everything I could think of: naans, curry, rice, samosas, and bhajis. It was so delicious we almost exploded and had to literally crawl to bed.
I do love a good chilli too but since we’ve eaten a mountain of the stuff lately, I opted for a pork roast made in our new Dutch oven. Very simple, with lots of roasted veggies to offset the pork, which was a pork loin so no fat at all. It was nice to have the elements of the dish separate instead of my usual ‘bungasmuchvegaspossibleinonepot’
A cosy, spooky Halloween
And of course, there was a pumpkin soup for lunch made from the flesh of one of our decorations, obviously. I found the ceramic pumpkin I’ve had for years and Mac made me some great candle holders. The atmosphere was spooky and cosy and we watched some horror with our tea in the evening.
We’d been watching the Haunting of Hill House which was really creepy and made me hold in a wee for hours because I was too scared to go to the loo by myself in the middle of the night. On my birthday we watched some of ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’ and then ‘The Terrifier’ which was bizarre, ridiculous and gruesome and a bit rubbish. (I won’t link to it as I don’t recommend it!)
But Halloween for me is not just about the spooks and the food, it is also perfectly autumn. Living where we do, it’s not easy to get proper autumn colours, but we managed to find a bit of autumn paradise on a trip out on Sunday. Yes, there were hunters, who rocked up to the picnic place we were at, telling us about the dangers of being out and about in the woods and the “black piiiggs” they were hoping to shoot. We came across a couple of stoned mushroom pickers too.
It’s the first time in ages that we’ve experienced an autumn in real life the same as the one I have in my head.
I can’t tell you how happy I was walking among the wet leaves, the colours and the mud, I felt totally at home with my cup of tea with the sound of the water and the scent of pine and damp.
Brilliant birthday presents
What about the presents? It’s not really about the presents but at the same time, it totally is!
Since we quit drinking, there’s been a special effort to choose something extra nice, for my part anyway. But our priorities have changed since Mac’s stroke, past presents have been oracle cards, a salt lamp, some pyjamas or a jumper or something, but this time I wanted a present (or presents!) to help keep me motivated, inspired, and on this current path.
So this year I opted for some new hiking boots like Mac so I can continue walking when it gets cold and wet. After walking and hiking most days since May, I can’t imagine not going out and it makes a massive difference to comfort if your feet are dry and comfy! Mac bought me a lovely backpack so I don’t have to borrow Nico’s school bag anymore.
I talked to my brother in the evening and he got a chocolate subscription, which sounds like my kind of present. He also got a Viz subscription, which is not my kind of present at all! I also bought myself a big bar of dark chocolate with almonds and a glorious orange and cinnamon-scented candle.
Times are changing
I suppose this is a roundabout way of saying that while, of course, everything has changed and we’re still getting used to our new way of living, we are extremely grateful to be able to appreciate autumn and chocolate and scented candles and hiking boots.
Autumn is a time for change, for rest and transition. I think it is important to remember that life is a cycle and when things slow down, fade away and die it is making way for new life, whether that be the leaves on the trees or a chapter in our lives. And while change can be sudden and shocking or slow and passive, I do believe that change is an opportunity, a reason to feel happy, to go with the flow, let go of the old and embrace the new.
Fighting it or resisting only makes it more difficult. This year has seen many changes, some of them welcome and intentional, some of them not so much. With that in mind, I’ll leave you with my favourite inspirational quote about change.
Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang, Smallville
Life is about change, sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s beautiful, but most of the time it’s both.