Happy Sunday! Welcome to another Small Collection, a series I started to help me focus on the things that bring me joy. 

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Pumpkin pancakes with sliced plum & cinnamon ricotta

So wow—late August, hello. Who’s ready for this weeks’s descent into Pumpkin Spice Land?

1.) Though I’m not a huge fan of the syrupy sweet drinks that are about to start cropping up all over the place, I do love eating real pumpkin. Here are a few of my favorites:

My palms are turning orange just thinking about all that beta-carotene deliciousness…

2.) Just thinking about September and all the business ahead has me in my weird version of nesting mode. I was working from home Thursday and Friday/trying to pretend it was the weekend, as I was on the hospital schedule for the weekend, so in addition to cleaning, running errands, and doing laundry, I made my first batch of fall-ready soup. Freezer=stocked. I made something very similar to this (minus the pumpkin/squash), mostly so I could clear my freezer of frozen veggies. IMG 7116 235x300 - A Small Collection of Joyous Things: Late August

I also made black garlic pulled pork chili that did have pumpkin in it. And bourbon. Lots of bourbon. That went straight into the freezer too.

3.) For now, though, berries are still in season!IMG 6937 300x273 - A Small Collection of Joyous Things: Late August

4.) Unrelated: I made eggplant dip twice this past week. This is a super-simple version where you just slice an eggplant lengthwise and bake, cut side down, at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Then you scoop out the insides and blend in a food processor with some garlic and olive oil until smooth. You could also add tahini, paprika, lemon, and/or liquid smoke for something a little richer. I was just being lazy. IMG 7139 300x300 - A Small Collection of Joyous Things: Late August

In non-food things that have made me happy this week, we have Eli, pondering the universe. IMG 7126 300x300 - A Small Collection of Joyous Things: Late August

5.) I found out that the song I’ve been singing him to help him wind down is the same song my mom used to sing to me when I was in utero. I find this creepy, weird, and awesome all at the same time.

6.) I love the way Patrick Stewart handled the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

I try not to talk about my day to day work too much on the blog for confidentiality reasons, but I actually work with ALS patients one day a week in an outpatient setting. The same people wondering “how” and “why” I worked with HIV patients when I was a student are the same people asking me about my ALS work—those who know me well just know that when something feels right, I don’t shy away from it. For whatever reason, I always seem to find my way to working with individuals living with illnesses for which there is no known cure. It’s sort of related to what I was talking about last week, having a willingness to “go there” and feel the feelings. Though I wouldn’t say it’s all sunshine and rainbows, working with this population helps me tune in to the beautiful little things in life and appreciate what I have around me.

What’s brought you joy this week?