Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

One of our most beloved family traditions every year is our trip to the pumpkin patch and orchard. We have been doing it since I was a little girl, when we would go with my cousin and follow it up with chili for dinner and cake to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. This year, it almost didn’t happen, for obvious reasons. But the kids have been studying pumpkins all week and we needed to find a way we felt comfortable going, if possible.

So we did! Billy, Devin, and Chrissy took a day off of work for our “field trip” this year, we got up early so we could arrive right when it opened, and we chose to go one of our favorite orchards, one that is a favorite because it is just about the pumpkins there. No rigmarole or fair like atmosphere – just an orchard, pumpkins, and for adults, a hard cider tasting room, where they make the cider onsite. We didn’t do any tasting this year but we definitely bought some to go.

We pulled up around the same time almost exactly, and headed off through the grounds, which we had all to ourselves. We kept our masks on, as good practice for the kids, and my mom as well, and maintained our distances although it was just us.

Well, us and this dog. He was with us our whole excursion and didn’t stray too far from my niece’s side. He lives there and decided to hang out with us.

It was an absolutely glorious morning – sunny, warm, a bit crisp. The perfect day for our adventure. We messed about in the orchard, laughed about our dog friend and honorary group member – we are the James Herriot Primary school after all..

Then we headed to the store area to shop for our gourds and pumpkins and all the good things. All the pumpkins were really up there so no picking through the patch for one but that is ok, much easier to lug them the two feet back to the car then all that way. We did have to run in to pay and to pick up our cider, and I also added a jar of honey from their hives to my order.

And the dog’s name turned out to be “Greater”. All Creatures Great and Small, anyone?

Happy Fall everyone!

Mini-Post: Feeling Squirrely for Chestnuts

Last Sunday was a gorgeous autumn day. The light was perfect, the trees were on fire, it was warm but not too warm, it had just enough crisp in the air to make you know that fall has arrived. In short, perfect. My favorite kind of day. I was happy too, because we had planned a small new-to-us adventure – chestnut foraging! I am calling it foraging although it was more like collecting at a chestnut farm, which I didn’t even realize was a thing. But foraging sounds better to me, so I am going with it.

When we arrived, I was surprised to see the place was hopping! Getting chestnuts is serious business – people were leaving with pounds and pounds of them. These are the type of chestnuts you can eat – the type that grow in our neighborhoods, the Horse Chestnut are toxic and inedible. These are the sweet English variety, the kind you hear about in old Victorian stories, or even stories from your own father who grew up in the sixties and has memories of buying roasted chestnuts from a cart and enjoying them. We had sort of anticipated just grabbing a pound or two and then figuring something out after, we were going for the experience and to enjoy the day out together doing something new and outdoors. This figures importantly later, you will see why.

Despite it being busy, I was so happy to see everyone had a mask on, and was distanced. The only place that was crowded was the roasting area, where Farmer Mike was showing people how to roast their own chestnuts, and it seemed like the people crowded around it were usually family groups. We skipped that part anyway, but for the most part, everyone had masks on and was staying well over six feet apart. We sanitized a bucket and headed out to the stand of chestnut trees, and got to work.

We were scrambling around on the ground like squirrels, gathering nuts, going from tree to tree, to pile to pile, exclaiming over the shiny conkers. Lots of getting up and kneeling back down, crawling about, throwing the chestnuts into the bucket as we went. It was a workout for my thighs as well, which were a bit sore the next day… and Billy even had Wyatt strapped to his back in the backpack carrier, so he had a bit more of a workout even. They were a good team though.

Once we filled our bucket up halfway, we decided we had enough, considering we had no idea what we were going to do with them anyway. Roast them for sure. But then maybe cake, like Rowan’s on the Bake Off? Soup? We tossed ideas back and forth as we walked back to the front to pay. I decided to stand in line (which was outside so bonus) while Billy and Wyatt went back to the car.

I waited patiently and then overheard the cashier tell the person in front of me some alarming news – they only took cash or check, and the nearest ATM was miles away. Guess who didn’t have any cash or checks on them? Yep me. I sadly had to dump my bucket out under the trees, consoling myself as I went that some people were going to find the piles and be excited over the jackpots they were finding. I walked back to the car, slightly disappointed, and informed Billy and Wyatt that the good memories of our adventure were to be the only things going home with us.. good thing at least that was the objective. Although, some chestnuts would have been nice too. We decided to consider this a scouting mission, and that we would return next year having learned two things: the first, bring cash. Second, bring work gloves, those sea urchin like protective seed casings are prickly!!

So, we went home empty-handed but at least it had been a good time. And Michigan was at its best, all lit up for fall.

Homeschooling: Bears!

This was a pretty good week! In addition to our regular curriculum, we added in a small bear study, and we had a lot of fun. Some weeks work out better than others, and this was a good one!

We started the week by reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and learning about different types of bears. Wyatt’s favorite is the American Black Bear, and I am partial to the Moon Bear. My niece and mom were doing the same study and Dinogirl said her favorite bear is the Spirit Bear while my mom liked the pandas. We also went on a “bear hunt” around our house, playing hide and seek with a toy bear. We discussed the anatomy of a bear (the basics) and created our own bears out of playdough.

Midweek we talked about hibernation, read some books, and made a little bear in a den scene. It was also a gorgeous if a wee bit windy fall day so we took school on the road to the park, where we worked on science.

Today we are going to finish up with some fun stuff, like participating in Fat Bear Week by voting for our family favorite, and then if the clouds cooperate, looking for Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the bears in the sky tonight!

Next week we are doing a mini-study based on ravens and Edgar Allen Poe… should be fun with kindergartners lol! But I found a few resources to make it more their speed- I just felt it would be fun for October! Or at least, appropriate. Lol.

Resource Round-Up:

Fiddlesticks Education – Bears of the World

Fiddlesticks Eductation – Bearly Awake Journal Pages

Join the Bear Hunt Activity Pages (designed to go with We’re Going on a Bear Hunt)

Books Read:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links

Bear Make Den || Welcome Home, Bear || Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze || Bear Snores On || We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Videos Watched:

Bear Snores On

Black Bear: Animal Facts for Kids

And I rented We’re Going on a Bear Hunt from Amazon

If you are interested in the National Parks Fat Bear Week, you can find it here! If you do check it out, let me know which bear you voted for! Update: This challenge is over but you can still check out the participants!

Homeschooling: September

It’s been a month. From starting homeschooling to Wyatt’s surgeries, it’s been busy. We are using the Blossom and Root curriculum, supplementing with Chickie and Roo’s Kinder Nature Beginnings, and I am also throwing in my own stuff as well. It’s a lot to sort and juggle, but it is worth it. We read Aesop’s Fables and Stone Soup this month so far in Blossom and Root, and did some fun activities to accompany the readings.

We started September by studying apples, then moved on to red foxes because I love them, then ended the month with a two week leaf study. We didn’t get to everything extra I had planned but that is ok.

And frankly, this month has been such a roller coaster I can’t recall most of the resources I used for the first two units of extra study. Our leaf study though at least is fresh in my mind!

We discussed the parts of a leaf, played with a leaf ID puzzle, traced and colored leaves, worked on leaf IDs, did a My Leaf report page, and painted an autumn tree. We made a leaf squirrel after being inspired by Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, as we also read a bunch of books. My favorite was our leaf rubbing day, where we sat outside in the sun and read and created.

So, the resource round up!

Printables:

Kidsparkz Fall

Leaf Investigation Freebie

Wildflower Ramblings Leaf ID

Parts of a Leaf from Twisty Noodle

Books:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Pooh’s Fall Harvest || Fletcher and the Falling Leaves || Leaves || The Gold Leaf || Leaf Man || Hello, Fall || Illustrated Stories From Aesop || Stone Soup

Hello, Fall was a big favorite here – so adorable. And we always love David Ezra Stein, and the Fletcher books too. Wyatt is a fan of Winnie the Pooh so that is always a winner for him, but his favorite this time was the Flip-Up Fairy Tale of Stone Soup, which had lift the flaps and a CD.

Extra Materials and Links

Crayon Rocks – perfect for leaf rubbing!

Wooden Leaf Puzzle

Stone Soup Board Game

Next week we are learning about acorns and squirrels – it should be a fun week!

My Autumn 2020 Bucket List

Today I am linking up with Leslie at Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After and her Autumn Bucket List challenge. I love autumn – the crisp air, the changing colors of the trees, warm snuggly blankets, boots, bonfires – just so much goodness in fall for me. I was born in November, so I think it is just in my bones.

I decided since we have had such a crazy month, to keep this list on the smaller side.

  1. Yoga! This has been on my list for months. I really need to make the time for myself to practice yoga. I always feel so centered and balanced after a session.
  2. Plant fall bulbs. Billy and I always say we are going to do this and always forget! This year though, it is happening. I want to experience the beauty of the spring flowers next year, and remember this season of life when we planted them.
  3. Ruthlessly purge my closet and start rebuilding my wardrobe. I posted my Fall Clothes Wish List the other week, and while it is just a few items for now, I want to make sure I add some cute things to my closet.
  4. I want bake more this fall. Bread mostly, but also some fun stuff too, like cookies and pies and cakes for my little sweet tooth boy. We did make this apple cake the other day!
  5. Start buying Christmas presents! I already have some ideas in mind for all the little people in my life and while Christmas is going to be different this year, I am still buying gifts for everyone. That is not changing.
  6. And of course, celebrate the season – enjoy the leaves, the tastes, the scents, read a few spooky books and cozy mysteries, maybe watch a scary movie or two. This is my favorite season after all!

And that is my little autumn bucket list. I already have some ideas for my winter one too… lol.

If you are interested in linking up, you can find the link up here!

A Slow and Cozy Fall Day

Saturday we hit the city; Sunday, we were back tromping in the woods. It was the most perfect fall day. Not too cold, not too warm. The leaves were a blanket over the ground, crunching under our feet, paving a yellow golden road for us. We didn’t hear many birds, just some geese flying overhead occasionally, and sometimes catching a glimpse of a woodpecker or two, with their distinctive red heads. Mostly we walked and talked and listened to the woods, keeping our eyes open for an owl tree, where an owl may by roosting. A few signs would be a tree that has been “whitewashed” and owl pellets at the base. Despite our best efforts though, we didn’t spot one. Billy and I are going on an owl prowl in a few weeks though, so hopefully we spot an owl that night!

I found the teeniest little baby acorn!! We may not have spotted any owl trees but we did spot lots of mushrooms, and stopped to make some nature art near the trail out of acorns and oak leaves. Billy also made a “clock” to signify the time we took to hike together that morning near the trail as well.

When we got home, we dug in and kept cozy, listening to music, having impromptu dance parties, and baking. Well, Billy and I at least. I made an apple pie while Billy tried his hand at a hand raised hot crust pork pie, inspired by the Great British Bake Off. We have a pie project for this month, and this was our first attempt. I have never made a completely from scratch pie, nor has he, and we didn’t do too bad for the first round. My dough was a little tough, which I guess can be too much water or over handling. Billy needed a little more flavor in his filling and he had made his crust a little too thick. So, we will see how we do next time! My recipe came from the Art of Pie, and the filling was delicious! I ended up using Granny Smith and Gala apples and it was very tasty together. And I apologize, I am the worst at food photography!! I thought Billy’s little dough piggy looked cute though.

I am so glad that we had such a fabulous fall day together, because the next morning we woke up to a whole new landscape…

We got 6.5 inches of snow!! Our little gnomes in our gnome garden are totally snowed in! And it is still here, sticking around.

But hey at least we had pie!

A Sunday of Foraging and Gathering

After a week of not feeling well, by the time Sunday rolled around I was feeling well enough to get out. And I wanted to. Needed to really. Cooped up for so long at home we all needed to stretch our legs and breathe in some fresh clean air. Greenfield Village is closing for the season in two weeks, and we wanted to get a last trip in before they close. We have had so many fun day trips there this year that we wanted to take a last walk around. And I knew it was decorated for their Halloween event so it was bound to look pretty cool too!

The air was brisk and cool, the day was a bit overcast, but it all added to the moodiness of the moment, with the jack o’lanterns lining the streets as far the eye could see, the hay bales, the spooky scarecrows – we felt like we had entered some sort of creepy children of the corn type town this trip.

We meandered our way over to the gardens, which in the summer time is bursting with blooms and busy bees, little birds darting here and there, and elegant butterflies floating from flower to flower. A garden in fall can be just as beautiful, but I think they are in spite of the lack of life. The beauty is a stark one, a lone candle in the window, if you will. The colors shine so much brighter, mimicking the colors on the trees around. There is glory in the brightness of fall, the last flare before winter.

Billy is naturally an outgoing person, and he and Wyatt strolled around that red house while I poked about in the garden. He ran into a friendly gardener who gave him two seed heads, from a sedum and a blackberry iris. She told him that if saw anything in the garden that we liked that was either off the plant and on the ground, or had gone to seed, we could gather and save for our garden next year! I usually have my seed envelopes with me because I am a nerd so we spent some happy time gathering seeds from flowers that we will plant in the spring. Wyatt enjoyed playing among the rows like a little bunny, some of the flowers taller than him. He is such a sweet kid, smelling the flowers and enjoying time in a garden.

Needless to say we found some things. We harvested seed pods and black walnuts, just a few and left the rest for the squirrels, and nicked a few blooms that had been already been bent practically off by overzealous wildlife, or perhaps other people, or their purses and bags or strollers. We felt so lucky leaving with our bounty!

It was nearing lunchtime so we picked one last spot in the village to visit before heading home – Daggett Farmhouse, my favorite. It makes me think of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and it was so perfect to visit so close to Halloween.

If I could move into the village, this is the house I would pick. I love it so much. The colors, the simplicity, the squareness, the big garden, and the windmill next door. Lol. So very New England. It was built before America was America, this house, can you believe it? We poked around outside and headed inside where the reenactors were sitting down to a lunch of pies and cabbage. It looked delicious honestly. Wyatt really enjoyed the mention of pie – I am pretty sure he is going to dig our month or so of pie making. Or at least the eating of them.

We headed home to our lunch soon after, bowls of warm chicken lemon rice soup, which I think did much magic for our colds. It was a good day!

Harvest Full Moon

Tonight is the full harvest moon – and coincidentally, Friday the 13th!! OOoooooOOO…

The Harvest Moon is the moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox which is coming up on the 23rd. This time, the moon is also a micromoon, meaning it will appear smaller in the sky, the opposite of a supermoon. So much happening in our skies right now! We are spending this harvest moon with my brother and his family, having a fire in the yard and eating cheesy corn chowder and apple bread made from the apples growing on our tree. The moon won’t rise in our area until after midnight, so it probably won’t be Friday the 13th anymore technically, and I kind of am ok with that.

I have been reading Harvest Moon books to Wyatt this week, in preparation for this moon that signifies harvest season and family. And because I am always curious and forever reading more on things, I also looked up books on superstitions for my own reading. Mine haven’t come in at the library yet, so I won’t get to read them until maybe next week, but I am looking forward to flipping through them.

These were all great reads, but our favorite is Possum’s Harvest Moon. This little possum just wants his friends to get together and celebrate before winter arrives, and meets with a little resistance at first! Eventually, all the friends have a great time together, hanging out at the Harvest Moon. Kind of like we are going to do with my brother and his family – although we will see him after winter arrives too. I am guessing though, historically, that for people in the “old days”, that once the snow fell you might not see your neighbors until spring, so maybe people back then had celebrations of their own, before snows kept them isolated.

I have to admit, the superstition of Friday the 13th does get to me… my family is very superstitious, I blame our Irish and Scottish ancestry! As I mentioned above, I went digging for some books on superstitions, as my curiosity usually does lead me to do. These were the few I found that looked really interesting!

We actually had the Encyclopedia of Superstitions in the library I used to work at, and the kids checked it out like crazy. I had to order a new one for the library eventually, it became so worn out. So, I figured that had to go on my list! I am sure I won’t read these cover to cover, all of them, but you never know I guess! What the Moon Said is a kids chapter book that drew my interest as well, it looks really interesting. They had me at Little House though…

How about you guys? Any plans for tonight? Any suggestions for a harvest moon play list?

Goodbye October, Hello November!


hello november

November. The month of my birth, a month I tend to think of as the beginning of the cozy part of fall. October for me is full of frantic activity – November I tend to turn more inward. Warm socks, soft knit gloves, cozy blankets are all pulled out as we put our flip flops and sandals away. We turn to hot drinks, savory soup, hearty bread; our lives take on a more gentle rhythm, taking our cue from mother nature herself.

This year to help me to be more mindful I joined the Wilder Child Slow Down Challenge, a 30 day challenge with different prompts for every day. Today’s prompt – make your child laugh. For my gigglepuss of a boy, this is an easy one for me. But many others include family traditions and more together time – reminding us to find our family in our chaos. I know that my days are so busy, running here and there with Wyatt, cleaning the house, shopping, planning – doing all the things we all do everyday. Sometimes it seems like I just check stuff off my list, but haven’t really been present in the moment. I want to do better. If you are interested, here is the link to the challenge. There is a private Facebook group too, for support during the challenge.

I keep seeing Nonfiction November being talked about around the book blogging world. I am becoming more and more of a nonfiction book reader, so I am unofficially joining in. I have a few different books picked out that I am going to attempt to read this month, interspersed with fiction. I usually read nonfiction books a bit slower, so I might not get to all of these, but this is my general plan, as far as nonfiction goes.

I am super excited about the Lewis-Stempel book. I actually bought it – the first book I have bought in two years!! It has to come all the way from England so it’s going to get here at the end of the month, but it should be pretty quick to read at 96 pages. I must have been on a roll because then I went and bought Braiding Sweetgrass too! I checked it out from the library a bit ago, but had to turn it back in before I was done. I was enjoying reading it so much and taking my time with it, that I decided gosh darn it, I was just going to buy it.

I am very much looking forward to this month – the family time, the food, the books and blankets and tea drinks. And pumpkin pie! I can’t wait for pumpkin pie. How about you? Is there anything you are looking forward to this month?

Drinks with a Ghost..

Like every city out there, Detroit has its own ghost stories and weird lore. From the Nain Rouge , the little hobgoblin who appears before a disaster, to the myth of Harry Houdini haunting the Majestic Theater, to the various and sundry other ghosties out there, we have our share! Usually I don’t think about them, but of course Halloween and my current reading material has them front and center in my thoughts.

Billy and I have been trying to have more date nights lately and last night we splurged. We headed downtown to The Whitney, which is an old beautiful mansion from the lumber baron days of Michigan’s history, turned into an elegant, fancy restaurant. It was built in 1894, and was described at the time as being one of the most opulent houses in the west. It is one of the few opulent mansions left, and it is a gorgeous old lady, towering high above Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

And it is said to be haunted.

Stories are told of the elevators operating themselves, doors opening and closing and moving between floors; one staff member even saw an older gentleman disappear into thin air when asked to leave.

The third floor of The Whitney serves spirits – and people thank goodness – in its Ghostbar, and it is where we chose to go for our date night. When we got there, the bar was empty, but it was early on Wednesday night. We chose to sit in the big leather seats, all cozied up to the bar, and indulged in decadent drinks and desserts.

 

I ordered the yummy nutty tasting Chocolate Ugli Cake, which is a flourless cake with a chocolate ganache, and their famous martini, the Witching Hour. And it was delicious!! Made with Valentine White Blossom Vodka, Limoncello, St. George Raspberry Liqueur, and fresh lemon, it was delightfully sweet and tart, without being too much of either. I can see why it is a drink that they are known for.

 

Billy ordered the Kahlua cheesecake, which was exactly how you think it would taste – rich and chocolatey, a bit boozy. Yum! It was topped with a coffee infused maple cream that was delish as well. To drink, he had the Spoonful, which is made with Mansion reserve Bourbon, sweet vermouth, Luxardo maraschino, and angostura bitters. It was pretty good too, but not as good as mine! Lol.

We had a great time, enjoying our little moment. It was such a cold night midweek, and we had the place to ourselves with the just the bartender. Although, it did make me feel a little bit like I was at the bar in The Shining..just a little. And that bartender – was he real? Hmm.

I can’t say we witnessed any ghostly behavior or saw any ghosts, but it was fun to hang out there and spend time with my guy.  If you are ever in Detroit and want to grab a cocktail before a show or after dinner or just because it’s a cold Wednesday night and you have a bit of free time, I suggest you step into the Ghostbar and try one of their amazing cocktails. You won’t regret it – and maybe you will see a specter!


If you are interested in more Haunted Detroit, there are many options out there! If only I had the time to do all of these, how fun would that be? Some of the events may be seasonal, or sold out but these tour groups have different tours all the time, so maybe one will open up, or something completely different will catch your fancy!

Wheelhouse Detroit- Haunted Tour and Dusk Tours – Visit haunted locations from the seat of your bike!

Preservation Detroit – Cemetery Tours

Haunted Detroit Tours

Detroit History Tours – they offer a Halloween in Detroit tour which is sold out, but there is a bizarre Detroit tour that still has availability

Historic Fort Wayne Tours After Dark – these are also sold out, but the Fort has many cool events coming up, including a Christmas at the Fort event. And there is always next year!