Front Porch Sittin’

Lately, we have put done our cell phones, turned off the television, and headed outside to the front porch to sit a while, and enjoy the evening with a cold drink or two. Wyatt joins us with his sippy cup of milk, while I sip my own drink of chilled white wine, a summer thing of mine. Billy usually has a craft beer, and we just kick it on the porch for a spell.

These evenings are so peaceful. No phones ringing or dinging, just the three of us chatting away. Occasionally we give a wave to a neighbor, exchange a hello, a word or two, but mostly our little family catches up on the day, just as the day is putting itself to bed. Sometimes, we just enjoy the sounds of the world around us, the small, thriving community that is all around us but haven’t noticed in our daily hustle.

Up and down the block, birds are chirping, tweeting, heading home to their nests, beaks full of insects and other goodies for their growing families. In the big elm across the street, a family of starlings has made their home, deep inside a hollow. Down the street in the maple, you can find a nest full of robins, and across the street from the robins, a couple of nuthatches. Somewhere nearby live the neighborhood Downy woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, cardinals, who always pop by for a visit. I hear the raucous call of a blue jay usually once a day, not to mention all the little brown birds, the black capped chickadees, and finches that twitter and tussle and flit about.

We have our own little bird family, another little group of robins, five in total – momma, dad, and three young babies. Or, rather, they used to be babies. Mom and Dad Robin moved into our maple, building their nest right almost at eye level, in the crook of the tree. We watched the babies, while mom and dad watched us. The babies grew up so fast, and recently flew the nest. We saw the last of these fledglings, standing on the edge of the nest, preparing for first flight. A day or two later, we saw a fledgling hanging out in our apple tree, on the lowest possible branch.

IMG_9652 (2)IMG_9630 (2)

Used to the all the evening chatter as the birds gossip about their day, we were sitting on the porch when the conversation around us ceased, followed by the loud shriek of a hawk. This new youngling landed right in our neighbor’s tree, on the hunt for something or other. We hope the reason is not related to the sudden presence of this little guy who tried to visit.

download_20170627_203709

Don’t you just love that little face?? I hope this little guy was adventuring for fun and not because mom became dinner. Cute as he is, he wanted up on our porch and I didn’t want him to visit that close. So we gently shoo’d him a bit, and he took temporary refuge under our apple tree. Hopefully he wandered back home, because he was gone when I checked on him an hour or so later..

It is amazing what you can see right from your own front porch, if you just let yourself sit and just be, for a while. Take away the distractions, get back to a slower, simpler way of living – there is a whole other world living there in front of us. Everywhere you look, there is life. What have you seen lately? How do you unwind?

Getting our craft on

We have been so busy, you guys know how summer is. Lots of social activities, time spent outside, hanging with friends and family, festivals, the list goes on and on. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of our latest adventures, including the night I just spent with my family – mom, aunt, SIL, cousin, extra moms..

The other night we all converged on my cousin’s house for snacks, drinks, conversation, and creativity. I thought it would be really nice to just get together, hang out, chatter, and work on whatever project we felt like doing.

The dining room table was clear when we entered the room- within minutes it was covered in the detritus of our creative endeavors, bits and bobs, yarn, felt, paper, even an easel. Slowly, bags of chips, wine bottles, wine glasses, and pop cups made their appearance. It was a beautiful mess, in my opinion, one born of fun and imagination.

We all had our own thing going – my mom and my SIL’s mom were crocheting. Chrissy, my SIL, was going to knit but spent the evening creating a giant ball with a whole in the middle. My cousin’s wife worked on an elaborate paint by number painting. Did you know they made them? I didn’t, but now I want to try one! My aunt and my cousin’s MIL worked on origami with the kids who were in attendance, while I labored over my felt pig. I of course forgot pins, so I had to stop halfway through the night. Typical me lol. I still had fun talking with everyone, and chilling, and it did give me the idea to bring coloring pages and colored pencils with me next time, in case anyone else needs an emergency project. There was so much laughter, crazy storytelling, a little bit of gossip. It was a great night, so much fun that we decided to make it a regular thing, and have one every month! I will probably still be working on my farm animals; if I finish, I am going to attempt embroidery. I feel I have so many different crafty type things I want to do, and never the time to do them. This is a fun way to make that time, and reminds me of how throughout history, women gathered to do this very thing, with quilting bees, sewing circles, and the like. I love the idea that our nights mimic women’s history, as we come together, share tales, and let our imaginations run free for a while.

 

Tuesday is the New Date Night

Tuesday is our new date night.

Billy and I haven’t had many opportunities to go out since we had Wyatt two years ago; like most parents with new babies, most of our entertainment became stuff we could do at home, with the boy, or family adventure days. Which we love, we love all of our family time. But it was also time to start going out again, the two of us. And my super cool mom noticed, and volunteered to watch Wyatt every Tuesday night so that Billy and  I can go out.

We had out second date night this week. Last week, we weren’t sure what to do with our newfound time, so we took a drive and went back home. This time though, we knew we wanted to have dinner somewhere new. Recently, a few restuarants from Detroit are branching out into the surrounding suburbs, which works well for us, especially now on a tight time budget. I had been wanting to try Bobcat Bonnies for months, and I finally got my chance on date night!

Our pregnant, accented, adorable waitress sat us and handed us the menus, including the very long list of mostly Michigan craft beers. After learning it was also Taco Tuesday, I knew that was the route I was going. My tacos came with a can of beer, which I didn’t want, as I had my eye on a peach basil mule. Billy ordered the beer instead, a Keweenaw Pick Axe. I took a sip and declared it delicious. For food, we started with a tater tot appetizer, because this place is known for their inventive tots. Then I ordered the tacos (the “Rio Bravo” and the vegan chorizo ones) and Billy opted for the kimchi bowl. We both must be wimps – the vegan chorizo was way too spicy for me. Billy had of course expected some heat from his dinner, but the Korean beef pushed it over the top. He ate about half, but still loved it.

Stuffed to the gills, we were going to skip dessert until the waitress mentioned glitter. Yep, they had a unicorn cheesecake, complete with glitter. How do you pass that up? I’ll tell you. You don’t. I don’t even particularly like cheesecake, but it was date night, and we were going all out. Or all in? Whatever, it was worth it! And I didn’t eat that third taco anyway, so eating half of this was a perfectly acceptable trade.

IMG_20170620_190057

 

We headed back home to our little guy full of happy and good food and drink. He was all clean and in his jammies, thanks to grandma. I learned he had a good night too, and had thoroughly enjoyed a hot fudge sundae.

Next date night we have tickets to a bike safari at the Detroit Zoo! I can’t wait to go.

 

Summertime…

Summertime and the living is easy, especially when you are a kid. All that carefree abandon, the long days of no responsibility, full of good times and sunshine. Riding bikes, playing tag as the sun sets, staying up late. Sticky popsicles that run down your hand and arm, lunches that get slightly soggy when eaten after swimming, still in your swimsuit, hair dripping. Running barefoot in the grass, laying out a blanket to read, Capri Sun next to you, because summer to a bookworm also means more time to read. I spent many summers getting to know the Ingalls family, a particular favorite of mine. Reading about Ferdinand the bull, the Poky Little Puppy, Curious George, James Herriot and his Yorkshire Dales and cows and dogs, The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Christopher Pike, my first intro to horror fiction. The list goes on and on.

I remember my mom signing me up every year for the summer reading program. I wasn’t the most athletic kid, and I was quiet and shy, and remember thinking, “Finally, a competition I might be able to win!” I did win, many times actually, as a kid, and even as an adult. I loved (still do) the library in the summer. An oasis of peace, calm, and cold temperatures, to a kid whose family did not have central air. My legs would be freezing, but I didn’t care, as I browsed books like it was my job. Story time was fun too, when I was younger. The Children’s Librarian of my youth became the Library Director and then finally retired, in the years I have been going to my library. A whole career that I was witness to.

IMG_20170206_102621

And the tradition continues. On Monday, my sister-in-law Chrissy and I took our kids to the library and signed them up together for summer reading. I don’t remember themes being a thing when I was younger, but our theme for this year is STEAM, which is pretty cool. For Wyatt and L.’s age group, 0-3, we follow the path of a game board, and of course read to the kids. The game board gives us direction – for instance, our first square tells us to read a science book. Chrissy and I scoured the shelves looking for one that would interest us as well as the kids. I ended up choosing a Dr. Seuss animal book, because that counts right? I didn’t end up reading that one to Wyatt though, anyway. Instead I read him a fantastic book from our own collection, called You Are Stardust. I love love love it. I of course signed up for the adult program too, and this year they had a version for “busy moms”, even though I feel like all moms are busy? Also board game format, it is more focused on reading with your family, and doing family activities, rather than reading books just for you on your own. I guess it does make sense really. I chose that one this time. And just like when I was a kid, my fingers are crossed that I win something!

And just because I am no longer that same young and carefree little kid, wearing terry cloth rompers, reading the day away, playing with my cousins, I can still eat popsicles sitting on the front porch, and run around barefoot. And of course, I still do. I’ve also been known to flag down the ice cream man just for a bomb pop.

What about you? What were your summers like?

Down on the Farm..

We’ve stumbled into a theme. It wasn’t planned. It just sort of…evolved. One thing led to another. But we are now farm addicts.

Our addiction began when I found the BBC show Edwardian Farm online. We were hooked from the moment the brilliant hosts began wrangling sheep in their brogans, making clotted cream, and having a pint in the pub. We binge watched the show, then found there were more! Victorian Farm, Tudor Farm, Manor Farm…we are still making our way through the bunch. But the show started off a steamroll effect.

One fine Sunday morning, we found ourselves restless, but without plans. There we were, driving about, looking for a destination, when we remembered Calder’s Dairy farm! A quick drive into the country for us, and there we were. Surrounded by cows and goats and chickens and ducks, even a pair of peacocks! We mucked about, exclaiming over the cuteness of the ducks (ok, that was just me) and being slightly afraid of the giant cows. (ok, just me again.) Wyatt adored it, and was so excited. Our speech delayed boy even very quietly whispered “moo” into his dad’s shoulder.

Of course we couldn’t leave without visiting the store, and checking out it’s available wares. Faced with freezers of ice cream, we had to eat some. It was delicious, of course. And it was pretty cool thinking the milk for the ice cream came from the cows just a few feet away! I had cookies and cream ice cream, and Wyatt and Billy enjoyed birthday cake flavored ice cream.

We didn’t escape with just the ice cream in our bellies. I also purchased a gallon of milk, in a glass bottle, a giant slab of butter, and a t-shirt for Wyatt. That milk was pure delight, and I am going today to buy more at their local store. One of my goals for the year was to try to purchase food from more local, small farmers, to see our food chain. This is one step closer to that goal. It takes more effort, but it is worth it – for the food, the farmer, and our local economy and community. (For more about this, read Wendell Berry. He’s a genius.)

Billy and I are now dreaming of farms – or at least somewhere I could have a few ducks, whom I would name Francis and Duckie, and a cute little pony, or mule. And a bearded collie. Billy wants to try his hand at brewing ginger beer, an enterprise I fully support. I love a good Moscow Mule and Dark and Stormies. I wouldn’t want to kill any of my animals though. That is a drawback to farming, but one I understand. I’m a vegetarian but the rest of my crew eats meat. Our obsession seems to be continuing, and I am even going to attempt to craft – everyone stand back! I am not the slightest bit successful generally, but I really want this one to work. I plan on making a set of barnyard buddies for Wyatt, some felt farm animals to play with. I can’t wait to make one of the adorable Tamworth pigs!

I end my evening these days, porch sitting, looking at my very full apple tree, drinking a chilled glass of La Vielle Ferme Blanc, dreaming of a farm to call our own. Maybe one day. Until then, it’s always nice to daydream. And eat ice cream and drink wine.