House Beautiful

Ode to Fall


OH, fall (!)  I love you so…  let me count the sweet, nostalgic ways.  It may still be 72 degrees in Chicago this week, but in the brisk, cool mornings when I take my dog out, I can smell it in the air, and I know my favorite season is just around the corner.

The thought of fall fills my silly little soul with the smell of bonfires, dried leaves and pumpkin spice candles…


Visions of argyle and flannel…

…and memories of scouring the pumpkin patch for the most perfectly symmetrical, beautiful pumpkin…  one without all that crusty goop on it, so it’ll make for good carving.


Fall reminds me of (inhale – ahhhhh) the smell of my high school gym, and the sound of whistles blowing and sneakers squeaking on the gym floor.  Wassup, Muncie Burris!

…and on chilly Friday nights, pep bands playing and cheerleaders cheering while hundreds of peacoats fill the stands under the stadium lights (and the overpowering smell of Abercrombie and Cool Water dance in the air).

(Helllooooooo number 66.)

All that jazz about fall is – in my nostalgic mind – set to the tune of the St. Elmo’s Fire theme song playing in the background.

The fall makes me want to wear loafers and boyfriend sweaters, live inside a J.Crew catalog, and look as effortlessly put together (yet artfully disheveled) as Keri Russell does.

…it makes me want to watch Rudy – wrapped in a nubby afghan – while I eat roasted pumpkin seeds and sip hot cider.

I can already hear dried leaves crunching under my feet, and smell charcoal wafting through the cool, crisp air.  Ah!  Quel delight.


Fall also evokes fond memories of back-to-school time…  going school supply shopping, and zipping up my college rule notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils and binders into my brand new Jansport, with my class schedule tucked in the outside pocket.

…memories of carefully choosing my coolest new outfit to debut on the 1st day back to school.  I mean, duh, you have to look so much cooler than you did last time everyone saw you.

But, oh man.  My favorite back-to-school memory HAS to be anxiously anticipating that moment when the boy I had a crush on would round the corner of the hallway in super slow mo.  He’ll be 6 inches taller than he’d been at the beginning of the summer, look effortlessly cool, and when he smiles at me, my breath will literally catch in my chest…  Then, right after I’m done DYING, I’ll get my best friend to find out from his best friend if he said anything about me…  after which, I’ll draw our initials inside hearts on my folders for the next 3 weeks.   Bahhahaa.

Even though I’m *COUGH* more than a few years past my back-to-school days, fall still has ALL its charms, and then some.  Here are a few things not to be missed this autumn season:

1.  TRY:  Red lipstick.  Case and point:

Trend??  Try CLASSIC.  It’s a showstopper that pulls you together in a snap.  I scoured Sephora on Michigan Avenue yesterday for the perfect tube of red…  and after upteen rounds of trying and wiping, I left looking like I did a Kool-aid keg stand.  However, I did discover 3 things:

  • I’ve read kajillions of reviews on YSL’s Lipsticks, and kids –  the magazines aren’t lying – they are to DIE for.  The Rouge Pur line is so creamy and luxurious, I can scarcely do it justice with words.  $30 is a splurge – but for something that makes you feel like a million bucks – that’s a splurge well spent.  (Just buy the rest of your makeup at Wal-Greens and it’ll all come out in the wash.)
  • When it comes to nailing the perfect shade, what looks stellar on a celeb in a magazine will not necessarily look the same with your skin tone, so you GOTTA try it before you buy it, and find a shade that’s right for you.  (Note:  NARS’ “Cruella” pencil is Sephora’s best-selling red and supposedly the most universally flattering.  It’s matte – which seemed too dry for me – but I layered pink lip gloss over it, and that took care of that.)

  • Speaking of, sometimes it takes a layer of something else – lip liner underneath or gloss on top – to get the red you want.  Kristen (who was a doll!) at the Clinique counter put Red-y to Wear lipstick on me yesterday.  It was a gorgeous color, but a tad too bright for me, so to tone it down, she layered Lip Smoothie in Absolute Acai to make it deeper.  BAM.  Girlfriend made the perfect red!

  • IMPORTANT:  You don’t need to be going to a black-tie event to sport red lipstick.  In fact, wear it with a white button-up or a solid cashmere sweater and a ponytail.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY – LESS. IS. MORE.  Keep everything else simple – a bare face  (sweep a champagne shadow across your lids) + one coat of mascara.  You’re done.  Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like a real floozy.  Or a drag queen.  And that’s just not good for business.

2.  SHOPJayson Home & Garden’s Fall Flea Market  – September 24-26.  As if this store – which houses some of the best eye candy in the city – could get any cooler, resident genius buyers Devin Kirk & Caroline Scheeler travel to the exotic ends of the earth every year, scouring the globe for vintage and antique home furnishings.  Then they load up the magical Jayson wagon and haul it all back to Chicago for us to marvel at.  This year, it seems they cleaned up in India, and they’re debuting all of it at the Fall Flea Market.

Doors open at 8:00 a.m. on Friday the 24th – the 1st 150 attendees will receive a Signature Market Tote.  Jayson is also offering free delivery services all weekend (!)  If you don’t live in Chicago, the collection will be online October 1 (or, you can order their catalog here).  The best part??  Taking something home that has a story behind it, that you’ll probably keep forever, and that everyone else & their mom didn’t also pick up at the corner chain store.

3.  BURNVoluspa’s Clove Pomander candle.  Hey.  I love a good run of the mill “caramel apple” or “cinnamon stick” variety as much the next girl, but this sophisticated twist on the ordinary fall candle cranks it up one delicious notch.  I let my college bestie, Mary, smell it last night, and she almost ate it.  I usually buy my Voluspa candles at Francesca’s on Southport in Chicago, but White Attic in Andersonville and Jayson H&G in Lincoln Park also carry ’em.  Click here to find a retailer near you.

4.  WATCH:  Put any of the following on your Netflix queue to get in the autumn spirit: Rudy, To Kill a Mockingbird, St. Elmo’s Fire, You’ve Got Mail, Dead Poets Society, Legends of the Fall, Big, or Cousins.

5.  WRAP YOURSELF IN:  A tartan plaid wool blanket from Brimfield in Andersonville.  Owner Julie Fernstrom literally scoured every flea market and antique shop in England for years, and collected a rainbow of gorgeous throws along the way, which she now sells in her uber unique, uber hot shop.

6.  EAT (Outdoors, while you still can): at Enoteca Roma in Wicker Park.  I went last spring with my pal Vani, and much to my surprise and delight, each chair outside has a flannel throw draped over the back, just to make diners more comfortable, should it get chilly after the sun goes down.  Uh, that’s genius.  PS: the “Cervo” – which is a campanelle pasta in a venison bolognese sauce – is to die for.

7.  SHOP:  At former airline pilot Halli Mulei’s Local Lookbook shop on Webster (where Furla used to be – across from Sweet Mandy B’s).  Like the retail clothing equivalent of the farmer’s market, the shop carries local designer frocks only, aiming to showcase Chicago’s talent & encourage Chicagoans to reinvest in their own fashion community (new designers will be rotated in every few months).  Grand Opening Party is (tomorrow) – Thursday, September 16 from 5-8pm.  Thanks for the tip, Katie!

8.  SIPMulled Cider.

9.  WEAR:  this American Apparel Hoodie.  I LIVE in this in the fall, and the salt-and-pepper, gym-class-grey color is stupidly outstanding.

10.  OR (dress it up a notch and) WEAR:  Anthropologie’s Outdoor Cafe Cardigan.  Nubby, breatheable, and perfect for cool Indian Summer days.  All I wanna do is wrap myself in this, and sip a latte outside.  Anthro puts it best:  “…perfect for early morning pastries and a hot brew on the patio.”  Amen people.

11.  MAKE:  Your own homemade centerpiece out of empty wine bottles – outfitted with taper candles – and then pat yourself on the back for your green sensibilities and sheer ingenuity.


I was goodwill hunting with my Nanny the other day, and grabbed a giant bag of white tapers for 10 cents a piece.  HOllar.

I plan on using a few of those bad boys in a few of these bad boys (…drink much?):

…I test-drove one last night, and I love the way it turned out.  So, I’m going to multiply that by about 20, and stagger ’em in a cluster on my dining room table.  I originally thought I’d soak off the labels, but think I’ll pick the prettiest ones and leave ’em on instead.  Oh boy!

12.  SIP OUT OF:  A rustic, salt-glazed pottery mug that looks like it belongs in the gruff hand of a salt-and-pepper-haired man on a brisk fall morning in a cabin somewhere in the woods.  Hello my name is Stephanie, and I love run-on sentences.  The ones pictured on the bottom belong to a friend of mine, and were purchased at the Monon Coffee Shop in Broadripple (Indianapolis, IN).  However, I don’t think they stock them regularly, so you may want to try Lockman Pottery’s Etsy Shop.

13.  GET:  A firepit.  My roommate just scooped up this one, and we have been living around it in the backyard every night – grilling, reading, marinating, and watching Gus reduce twigs to ash.  It’s like a little slice of heaven in Lakeview.

14.  DO:  Take a big inhale and savor.  This season is a sweet, sweet thing.

x to the o!

11 Responses to “Ode to Fall”

  • OOOOHHH I just got some good ideas. So this means I should be drinking MORE wine so that I have some centerpiece ideas??

  • I don’t know you, Steph but I could just kiss you for this post!!! I didn’t experience a real Fall until I lived in Oregon… simply dee-licious season, simply dee-licious post. Thank you!!!

  • St. Elmo’s Fire theme is a great call.

  • Nicely done Steph, was just talking about planning a “fall” weekend a getting some apple and pumpkin picking in. Great references and commentary.

  • I love to read your writing because it allows me to hear your voice in my head. That makes me miss you a little less, because when I’m reading your posts I feel like you are right here with me. I love you and I love Covet Living. Rock on.

  • Thanks Homies!! So: Love that someone else appreciates the most quintessential, nostalgic “fall” song, ever. Jacobs: we still gotta re-do your room! I just ran across those pics. Fifi: You’re so good to me, always. Love and miss you – and, will see you in a few weeks! I’m in the Chuck twice in the next 2 months for weddings.

  • I love those clear bottles with the candles! So pretty!

  • You left out one perfect Fall movie:

    Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”.

    And a few items for the soundtrack of your days:

    Ella Fitzgerald’s “Autumn In NY” (okay no need to guess what city I’m from)
    Sinatra’s “Moonlight In Vermont” (I did get out of the city occasionally)
    Nat King Cole’s “The Autumn Leaves”
    Moody Blues “Forever Autumn”
    The Mama’s & The Papa’s “California Dreamin'”

  • Jen – perfect music suggestions. Another one: Henry Mancini’s “Moon River”. It reminds me of that episode of SATC when Big moves away and Carrie walks out of his place and onto the street, with Fall leaves falling everywhere around her. That song was playing in the background. Aaahh…

  • Love it! Some really creative ideas. Definitely makes me miss Fall. I’ve lived on the West coast for the past 10 years. We don’t have that season. 🙂 Looking forward to some more stuff Stephanie!

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