Erica is a writer, editor, wife, and mom. She has always found employment with an English degree and she excels at nurturing children and animals but struggles to keep houseplants alive. Erica currently writes at SidewaysQ.com

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Traditions: Honoring Autumn

There are dozens of ways to enjoy the fall season and all it offers before we hunker down for the winter. From pumpkin pie flavors to elaborately decorated cookies to chrysanthemums, here’s how our TodaysMama staff honors Autumn.

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The summer has a very “up and at ‘em” vibe. If my neighbor knocks on my door at 2pm and everyone in my household is still in jammies, I feel guilty. Get a few frosty mornings under your belt and PJ’s all day passes for “cozy.”

Lest you think I only love autumn because of my ability to be completely lazy, I do have some actual traditions that I save for fall. It’s simple, but I am a big believer in seasonally appropriate beverages. I retire my margarita glass for my favorite mug and I stock up on my favorites: Hot Apple Cider Tea, Roasted Hazelnut Hot Cocoa and drip coffee with Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer.

I think the reason I take so much pleasure in something so simple is that the flavors are fleeting – and while there are more entertaining and active ways to enjoy the season, a warm cup of something delicious is a daily to reminder to stop and drink it all in.

-Erin Oltmanns, Managing Editor

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Well-Traveled Cookies

How many frequent flier miles do your sugar cookies earn each year? One of our favorite October traditions growing up was spending a Saturday with my mom to mix, cut, bake and frost Halloween sugar cookies. Now that my siblings are scattered across the country, Grammy packs up suitcases of cookies and decorations to take with her on her fall pilgrimage to see the grandkids. Sound extreme?

No, there’s nothing inherently special about the cookie recipe or the idea itself. But for our family, this tradition is top of the list every year, our “Must-Do” activity or Halloween doesn’t seem complete.

We cut out bats and pumpkins, ghosts and cats, witches and owls. We need orange and green, vanilla and chocolate frostings. The best part is decorating each cookie. Each year, the list of candy toppings grows as we move beyond just candy corn and mini M&M’s to gummy worms or Skittles, Rolos or Junior Mints. By the end of our day, we have a parade of cookies to admire, the perfectly-decorated ghost and the gobbed-on pumpkin which looks more like a marshmallow mosh pit. After pictures and prizes, the well-traveled cookies find an end in our tummies and Grammy heads home with an empty suitcase and a camera full of memories.

Find the recipe here!

-Amy Allen Johnson

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Autumn’s few months became my favorite during high school. I liked school and shopped for school supplies with excitement. This was also cross-country season, and I loved spending every afternoon running through the woods with my teammates. I am still flooded by sensory memories–the smell of crisp, fallen leaves, the sound of fast footsteps on packed dirt, the feel of wind as we barrel down a steep hill, the thrilling, desperate feeling of sprinting toward the finish tape during a race.

As an adult, I enjoy making the first pot of soup for the season and serving it alongside crusty bread and a glass of robust red wine. A year ago my family moved to Lexington, Kentucky. October is one of two months our local horse racing track is open, and I look forward to taking in the races while people-watching–the girls teetering on impossible heels, the man banging his program in disgust after a loss, the other man whooping in winning celebration. Tailgate parties abound at both the race track and at the nearby UK football stadium. Last week, my family went to a “dig your own mums” farm and selected brightly-colored varieties with the signature female monikers, and this weekend we’re selecting our pumpkins.

My toddler son is playing in the leaves, and my newborn son is wrapped snugly against my chest. The leaves are falling and ending their life cycle, but all around me life is being lived to its fullest. I love it.

-Erica Fehrman

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