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!

World Giraffe Day

Friday was World Giraffe Day and also summer solstice, celebrating the longest necked animal on the longest day (or night depending on your hemisphere) of the year.

Wyatt loves giraffes. They are his favorite (coincidentally, his favorite colors are also orange and yellow..) We were already planning on celebrating solstice in our own small way, by eating summery fruits like strawberries and getting together with some friends, but when I read about Giraffe day, I decided to make a whole day of it. Billy even took the day off from work so that he could celebrate with us all day as well!

We headed out early, basically waking up and packing up our “adventure backpack” as we call it and hitting the road, zoo bound. The giraffe festivities at the zoo were starting at 10, but I like to get to the zoo, or anywhere, right when they open as I have found places are less crowded earlier. We found the parking lot empty and the zoo almost to ourselves when we got there, and since we had time before the giraffe day things we visited some of the new exhibits, like the red panda’s new enclosure, with its rope swinging bridge, which puts zoogoers closer to the treetops where the red panda’s hang out, and the arctic exhibit which is usually jam packed. We had both exhibits to ourselves, which was kind of neat, especially the arctic exhibit. I finally got a chance to view the artwork that is inside! We were able to get very close to the glass as well with our kiddo, so close that a passing seal startled him a little! Most of the seals at the Detroit Zoo have cataracts and would not be able to survive in the wild and it is amazing how they still can perform their water acrobatics and swim and dive with limited vision. Nature is so cool.

After checking out the most popular attractions, we went to our other favorites, the wolves and the bears, who were all out and up front and center that early in the morning. I have actually never seen either the wolves or bears so close to visitor areas, we were able to get great views of them. By the time we were done, it was time to head over to the giraffes, our whole reason for going!

The zoo had volunteers standing by to answer questions, as well as information tables and signs laid out everywhere. We saw the skull of a giraffe, and signed the card for Kuvali, the mom giraffe at the zoo. We have a family of giraffes, Kuvali, Jabari (dad), and Mpenzi, their son at our zoo, and they were showing off in the yard, playing and posing for photos.

Wyatt and I had been doing some reading in preparation for World Giraffe Day, to expand our (my) knowledge of giraffes, and I learned quite a few crazy things! We learned that the collective noun for giraffes is a tower, which makes sense, and that giraffes actually have the same number of vertebrae in its neck as a human. Giraffes also have blue-black tongues to protect the tongue from sunburns, and fight by swinging their necks around, which I never want to see.

Sadly, these gentle, quiet, beautiful creatures have become endangered. According to bornfree.uk, giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40% in the last three decades, and less than 100,000 remain today. I hate hearing about all of our animals slowly disappearing; it is hard to imagine a world where these magnificent beasts no longer roam. To read more about their plight and what you can do, visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation here. I have already signed up to make a monthly donation and “adopted” a giraffe, but there are other ways to help, which can be as easy as just making people aware that these amazing animals are in danger.

How about you? What is your favorite animal?

Supporting Small and Local

For a year now I have been trying to find a way to source a majority of our groceries from small, local farmers. It has actually been harder than I thought, honestly. We do not live in a “food desert” but my area is much more urban than rural, and we have to drive a ways to find a farm. And then to try to make a list of which ones have what, and of those, make sure they are organic and humane, then finally, where are they, in relation to me and to each other? However, brilliant people eons ago solved this problem for me, I just needed to take advantage of it. Instead of running all over the map sourcing these ingredients, farmers make it easy on us by bringing it in to farmer’s markets, a resource I have neglected for far too long. Before Wyatt, we used to go all the time – for some reason we stopped going regularly. But last Saturday, we were up early and my kiddo is full of beans in the morning so we just threw on some clothes and left the house, in search of adventure and good food.

We found both! Eastern Market downtown is a huge farmer’s market, that has everything from flowers to meat to baked goods to produce to cheese and eggs. We happily wandered the sheds in search of what we wanted, and bought quite a few other things not on our list as well. We spent thirty dollars, and left with a giant bag filled to the top with fresh veggies (it’s a little early for fruit really here), including a huge bunch of radishes still all covered in dirt. I love radishes, and we eat them a lot, especially in our spring green quinoa bowls which we enjoy at least once a week. So that was an exciting find. We also bought a jar of fresh honey, handmade spinach basil ravioli, a small bag of mushrooms, a loaf of olive bread and a giant loaf of farm table bread, microgreens and pea shoots, asparagus, and some other assorted veggies that I can’t seem to remember.

I was entranced by the mushroom stall, as you can see. I have never seen that many different kinds of mushrooms all at once, and there were quite a few I had never heard of. We didn’t buy morels but they are on our list for next time!

We spotted this beauty too, also home grown in the D….

Since we were already out and on this mission we decided to head to Calder’s Dairy as well, to round out our day. It was a bit of a drive, and not well planned out to go from Eastern Market down to Calder’s Dairy, but it was a beautiful day and we had no other plans, so why not? At Calder’s we bought eggs, milk, butter, and ice cream, and oooed and ahhed over the cute little babies there! Calves and ducklings and goslings were everywhere! I wanted to take a few ducklings home but unfortunately my city frowns on raising any fowl so no chickens or ducks for me, although I would love a few of each!

When we got home I had a better idea of how to do this in the future, and next time I will have a plan. It was a little impulsive, fly by the seat of our pants but it was a fact finding mission and adventure this time. I did have to buy other groceries still but we had a chunk taken care of, and I felt good about where most of our food came from. I had to make our dinner plan around what I had bought, rather than the other way around, which was a little challenging, but it was doable. We just had different sorts of dinners! We had scrambled eggs on toasted olive bread sprinkled with microgreens and steamed asparagus on the side, spring quinoa bowls, the spinach basil ravioli, a pizza from the local Italian bakery that we baked ourselves (I bought this a different day but stuck to my mission), and then we ate out one day at my mom’s special request to eat at a particular restaurant. So, we got three meals out of our expedition and that was without a plan. We are going back next Saturday and you can be sure that I will have a rough dinner plan mapped out in my head and a mental list of ingredients. I am looking forward to doing this as often as we can this summer, and then to start preserving for the winter as well! It also forces us to live seasonally, which is better for the quality of our food as well as our environment.

I would love to hear your favorite farmer’s market style meals! I need ideas!

A bit of green, a bit of grey

On the weekend, we usually head for the wild. Or as wild as we can get near Detroit. Lol. The woods call our name and we go. This past weekend however we took a detour and it was a lovely one.

Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day, spring was in the air and all was merry and cheerful. Detroit’s Pewabic Pottery was having a Celtic Celebration, and I couldn’t wait to go. I love the work that comes out of Pewabic, and my family ancestry is very Irish. They had advertised dancing, things for the kids to do, and best of all, live music. I grew up spinning around the living room in my mom’s arms to the songs of the Irish Rovers and I play them now for my son. So I was super excited for him to hear some Irish music live. I knew he would really love it, that and the dancing, all that lively jumping up and down.

We got there at the start of the event since Pewabic is not a large building really, and full of breakables and we had the boyo with us. I wanted to ensure that we were not swallowed by a crowd, plus I didn’t want to chance breaking anything by accident. It was nice as we were among the first to arrive, and we were able to listen to the music and do some coloring without much crowding. Although, Wyatt was more interested in his pretzel than coloring, so Billy colored instead. Lol. Wyatt did love the music as predicted, and loved The Rattling Bog the very best, just like I do.

Oh that fireplace! If only…maybe one day? So many beautiful items were on display, so much fantastic artistry. I ended up buying the bunny pictured alone, although I am going back for more very soon. I love rabbits. The tile I bought was by a Canadian artist named Mary Philpott, and is in the style of the British Arts and Crafts movement. I am in love with it! You can check out more of her work here.

Sunday was about Billy. Kind of. He wanted to go to an RV and Camper show, which I wasn’t super excited to do. But you know how you do, you do things your spouse wants and vice versa, right? Plus, he threw in that it was in the same city as a coffeehouse that I have wanted to go to for twenty whole years! So, off we went. I didn’t hate the RV thing – but I did think once you saw a few of them, why look at them all? We are considering getting one so we can start doing longer trips with the kiddo on vacation. As a kid with cerebral palsy, he has a lot of equipment that goes with us on trips, and a small RV might just be the ticket. Plus…I have turned into a weird germophobe along the way. I love staying in hotels but I am always a bit skeptical about their cleanliness, which I am sure is warranted in some cases, but not all! I guess I just need to bring my own bed with me places now. LOL.

So this coffeehouse – Billy went to it twenty years ago when he was doing travel computer training, when we were first married. Only an hour away, and we never made it back there – until last weekend! This magic place is called The Raven Cafe, in Port Huron, and is so very Edgar Allen Poe. I loved it! It was worth the wait. The coffee was hot and black and delicious, and our food was pretty darn good too! Wyatt wasn’t as impressed, and began to finger paint on the mirror next to us with his cheese sauce. (we of course cleaned it up and stopped him! we are not those parents..lol) If you ever are in the area and get the chance to stop in, I recommend it. The service was friendly, the coffee perfect, and the tables named for poets! It was the perfect day for it as well, cloudy, rainy, a bit gloomy, and the cafe was all warm woods the color of honey and just warmth and coziness. The website describes itself as “Part Hogwarts and part Cheers, the Raven is a unique place. When you step through the doors, you’ll get the distinct feeling you’re walking into a story.” And this is a very apt description, and I agree. I can’t wait to go back again.

 

So our weekend had a bit of glee with a side of gloom, and I loved them both!

 

Saturdays are for family

Saturday is our designated day for us, as much as we possibly can. Our weeks are so full, with work and school and therapy and appointments and cleaning and chores and all the stuff that comes along with living everyday. So we set Saturday aside as our day. The day we let things go, and just be together.

This past Saturday it was very much needed. It’s been an intense two weeks emotionally for me, and I do best when I get space and quiet to process things. We were predicted to have some crazy bad weather later that night through Monday morning, but when we left the house it was a brilliantly sunny day. A little chilly, but warm enough to get outside, walk around a bit, and soak up a little bit of sunshine.

We headed to Belle Isle in Detroit, somewhere we haven’t been for a while. The river was full of giant freighters, making their way through the Great Lakes, and people were running, biking, and two people were even playing hockey on the ice on one of the ponds. We took our time driving around, looking for birds. We eventually pulled into the nature center parking lot to get out of the car and stretch our legs a bit, and get some air and some of that sun. We walked on the trail behind the nature center, among the tall frozen grasses, the sounds of birdsong surrounding us.

 

Being out in the air was so restorative. You can take a deep breath, and feel yourself just relaxing and letting go of things that are bothering you, at least for a little while. And when you have two guys with you that look like lumberjacks, even better.

We of course popped inside the nature center after our walk. It was nice to warm up a bit, talk to the interpreters, and sit and watch the birds from the viewing area.

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And sometimes you see more than birds!

When we had hung out long enough, we bundled back into the car, shared a snack, and headed into the city, to one of our favorite bakeries, Avalon. If you are ever in Detroit, they make some fantastic bread and cookies. Usually Billy stops on his way home from work on Friday nights to get us fresh bread for Saturday morning breakfast, but he hasn’t had a chance lately. So we decided to get our bread for the week since we were already in town anyway.

I always want to go a bit crazy in there and buy everything, but I practice some restraint. This time we got a baguette, challah bread, a raisin bread loafling, an olive bread loafling (they were made from the dough that wasn’t enough to make a full loaf – so I am calling them loaflings..), a plain croissant, three cookies, and a peanut butter and chocolate brownie. I refrained from the Rose Latte which sounds amazing, and the chocolate croissant – this time at least! The sun was shining bright through the windows, it wasn’t crazy busy, and there was a man playing some music on his trumpet, so we stuck around a bit to listen and enjoy our cookies.

Eventually though, we had to head for home, but we did so with restored spirits and full bellies.

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!