My affection for being warm tells me that sweater weather alone is not reason enough to celebrate. However, I love to get a new sweater or two every fall that will take me through the winter and KEEP me warm. Per my last post, an autumn-themed Thanksgiving precursor with my family prompts some news favorites and an occasion to sport them.

Each day now moves through its schedule in the dark more than it does in sunlight. The new frocks that I’ve found mirror that theme. Whoever said that black and brown don’t mix never found the chic pieces that manage to effortlessly blend both. And unlike the fallen leaves that dry into an unattractive state of eventual lawnmower confetti, these pieces will remain fresh all winter long. I’m especially fond of the puffy sleeves that are capping this year’s sweaters. They extend a feminine touch to contrast the rugged charm of light-wash denim that I tend to pair my sweaters with as a daily uniform. No matter the garment, tactile textures, preferably soft ones, are a must. I don’t shy away from pattern during the summer, and I don’t during winter months either. Dresses, whether tailored and trim or in loose caftan form, say “confidence” when embellished with a charming print.

Those bright vegetable colors cultivated in our backyard gardens have ceased for this year, but in exchange we have a host of new flavors that are equally delicious and far more stick-to-your-bones. Hummus always feels healthy, and adjusted for the fall with pumpkin puree and maple syrup, and your guests (even if they are family), are sure to stick around for the following courses. An apple and kale salad continue the healthy vibe before the pork marsala and chicken-and-gnocchi dumplings are heartily portioned on the dinner plate. The rage for Brussels sprouts shows no sign of slowing. I’ll admit that now that I know how to prepare these mini cabbages to culinary triumph, I crave them more and more.

For grown-ups, a cider-and-maple old fashioned will warm the soul, especially when backed by a crackling fire. I make mine with apple cider, a touch of lemon juice, ginger beer, and bourbon. I know that everyone has their favorite bourbon, but my new love is the recently launched, very smooth, The Real Stuff. Because I grew up with a mother who taught me the importance of presentation, a garnish of an apple slice, spring of thyme, and a cinnamon stick makes this drink look as good as it tastes.

Finally, the music. A little Jewel, some One Republic, Big Head Todd and the Monsters. And is there any playlist that doesn’t include Taylor Swift? Turn up the volume and enjoy.