Hello, August!

Hello August

Goodbye July, hello August!

We are heading into our final month of summer already! I have really been enjoying having my kiddo home everyday with me, it has been so much fun! Even though I can’t get very much done, like cleaning or reading or blogging, hanging out with him is better than all that, hands down. We have little adventures all the time. One thing we have been doing this summer is breakfasting outside in the morning, and it has become my favorite part of the day. I spread out the blanket, take some books and toys and our food, and just sit there until the heat and sun drive us inside. It is a very nice start to our day, one the just works for us. Once the sun starts beating down on us too hard, we go in and go about our business of the day – for me at least.

I am not ready to let go of summer yet, although fall is my favorite season of the year.  We have so much planned still for this month, bonfires and bike rides and birthday parties; we are planning on a “late night” outside too, to observe the night sky and just the nighttime itself. One thing I want to start this month too, is a family art night every Thursday if possible. We will work on art projects together, and some individually too. Next week is our first attempt, and we are all going to paint our version of the night sky. It will be interesting – I am not an artist and my husband is! But, that is not the point really anyway. It is about doing it together. I don’t want Wyatt to not try things or do things because he doesn’t think he is good at them. I remember reading a long time ago, in a Robert Fulghum book, that when we are kids we love to sing, and draw and color and dance, and when we become adults, we are too self-conscious or judgmental of our selves to do it anymore. That is so sad to me! Let’s live, and remember to play. That’s been my whole goal this summer anyway, to let go and have fun, and play with my son and my husband. And it has been a great summer so far!

August feels so abundant, wild, overflowing – gardens are full, blooms on flowers are bursting from their beds. The sun is shining high in the sky, and the world is so lush and full. Our apple tree is heavy with fruit, the weight pulling the branches down so far you would think they would snap, but they don’t. Trees can teach us a lesson in flexibility – strongly rooted, but able to bend as needed. The apples on our tree are starting to show a little red, and will be ready in the next month or two. I love how our whole neighborhood enjoys them – it is an apple summer here! Next month we will all begin to harvest, to get ready for the fall and winter, but for now, we can all just enjoy the fruits of the summer.

 

Father’s Day Motor Muster

Father’s Day morning was awful. Rainy, cold, gray. But we were undeterred by the bad weather, and tucked ourselves into our rain gear and continued on with our plan for the day!

Greenfield Village was having its annual “Motor Muster”, where people from all over drive their classic cars to the village and show them off. I have to admit, I am not super into cars. But Billy is, and it was Father’s Day, so there we were. He’s a good guy and a great father so whatever he wanted, it was his day. There was one thing I did want to do though, and that was ride the train. A month ago my stepfather passed away, and he was a huge train enthusiast, and I wanted us to take a ride on the steam train around the village, in memory of him on Father’s Day. So we made that our first stop – it was a good way to stay out of the rain too. It was actually pretty atmospheric in the rain, with the thick steam wrapping around the sides of the train. Wyatt loved it, and Jerry would have too.

 

When our ride ended, the rain pretty much had too, luckily. We wandered about looking at the cars, and I found that I was actually really interested this time. Lol. Call it my summer of retro, I guess! We saw some really cool vehicles though, and we had the village pretty much to ourselves for a while, due to the morning’s rain.

 

Those wood paneled cars are really cool looking! Billy loved all the International Harvesters, which I guess are very rare. There were three at the Motor Muster, one of which was a wagon type version, which Billy had never seen and was super excited about. I was more of a fan of the Vernor’s truck, so classic Michigan! I also liked this one:

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We were excited to see the Tin Can Tourists had a few people there too!

 

After we had walked around and checked out all the cars, we checked out the rest of the sights! This year the village had added in vintage era music shows, food stalls, and living history type exhibits, if you could call them that. I thought these ladies looked amazing and so very retro cool, working on their Victory Garden.

 

And yes, as any good Hawaiian blooded man does, my husband ate the grilled spam sandwich. Which he said was excellent!

All in all, it was a great way to spend the day and we had a fun with this blast from the past! And hey, since you are here, check out my giveaway!

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!

Hello June!

Wow, how is it June already? It seems like the year is flying by!

June is the month of the Strawberry Moon, and I am so excited to begin this month! This month I think we want to really soak up the month, as I am not sure where April and May went to so fast!

Summer begins in June, and it always brings to mind that freedom and joy felt when you are a child, and the whole summer is stretched out before you like a blank canvas. Mornings of sleeping in, lazy days reading under a tree, chasing fireflies and playing tag, trips to the cool library on those really hot days, visits to the zoo and beaches and walks through shady woods. Peeking under rocks for bugs and just laying back in the grass, staring up at the clouds. Playing with friends and cousins and backyard cookouts and pool play dates. Summertime feels like freedom, and we lose that feeling so much as an adult, with all of our responsibilities of work, whether it is a work out of the home job or stay at home. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past few months, it is that time is short. We all only have so many summers and while we do have to take care of lives, and can’t live with the utter carefreeness of a child all of the time, we can incorporate some of that spirit into our everyday. Stop and take half an hour or an hour on a busy day to just be. To enjoy and savor your life. Make days just for playtime and family and fun days out. Try and make the most of these days. The other day my husband came home from work and although it was dinner time and we had lots of things we could have and should have been doing, instead we hopped in the car, stopped at a bakery for pizza rolls, and headed off to the marsh for a sunset. A spur of the moment dinner picnic. It was good for the soul.

This summer, we are planning on many trips to the library, little morning hikes, and lots of evening front porch sitting. We are enjoying gardening and the farmer’s markets that are popping up, and we are looking forward to many backyard bbqs and fires, chilled white wine, iced lavendar coffee, and of course, lots and lots of ice cream! Mint chocolate chip for Wyatt and Billy, chocolate for me. Wyatt also started adaptive swimming lessons which are fun, he loves being in the water. He also really loves to splash! I think the two of us are going to the zoo, and to a few farms around here together, and we are planning on going strawberry picking with my brother and his family, including Wyatt’s cousin L. But we are also seeking out just those quiet moments too, sitting in the grass on a blanket surrounded by books and cookies and lemonade. Iced tea parties and poetry. Lounging about in our pajamas on a lazy morning, eating pancakes and listening to music. (My son loves Down by the Bay and will sing along, quite loudly…) Dancing around the house to Prince and Van Morrison and Tom Petty and Eric Church. Spontaneous trips for ice cream for dinner.

We had our first outdoor evening, soaking up the beautiful weather, warm and breezy, at my brother’s house the other night and it was perfect. Birds singing their evening song, burger and hot dogs, chips, cold beers, and bubbles for the kids to play with. I am looking forward to many more this summer!

What do you love about summer? Do you have any favorite memories from when you were a kid?

A Wee Road Trip

On a whim, spur of the moment, fly by the seat of our pants type situation our family took a trip to the western side of Michigan over Mother’s Day weekend. My husband very nonchalantly said to me one day that he would like to see the tulips in Holland, MI , and I was like, well let’s go! We had originally planned to go to Mackinaw for that weekend, so he already had the time off – we just switched our destination at the last minute. And I was really glad that we did! I love northern Michigan but that weekend would have been absolutely freezing – we were cold in Sauguatuck and Holland, but nothing like it would have been in Mackinac.

It was not easy finding reservations at the last minute, especially ones that were not $400 a night. We ended up staying outside of Holland, for which I was grateful, as it was nice to visit the tulip festival and have a place to retreat that was less crazy, especially with our four year old in tow. The hotel we stayed at was one of a few that are out that way that I have always wanted to stay at – the Saugatuck Retro Resort, which is a restored and renovated motor lodge from 1966. The decor is mid-century modern, which I love, and it was super clean. I am one of those weirdos about rooms and cleanliness and this place passed my inspection. I have a love apparently lately for vintage style travel and the Saugatuck Retro Resort did not disappoint. I only wish we could have been there later in the season as the motel offered a communal fire pit and a great looking pool, as well as grills for guest use. Definitely a place to remember for the future.

We left early, stopping only for road provisions at Avalon Bakery in Detroit for croissants and cookies and headed out west, destination Windmill Island in Holland. I was there once as a very little girl but I didn’t remember it. It was insanely beautiful that day, with a super blue sky and a riot of tulips everywhere. I didn’t expect all the people there who came strictly to take photos in the tulip gardens, decked out in particular outfits to strike a pose, although I could see why they would! Some people were very respectful of the flowers, while others tromped all over them trying to get the perfect picture, which was sad. One woman was screeching at her kids and changing her lenses repeatedly trying to get her shot, all while squashing tulips beneath her Hunters -it was pretty sad. For the most part though, people were there to enjoy the scenery and take in the tulips. We walked around, visited the windmill, and poked around the tiny Dutch village replica, where I bought Wyatt a teeny pair of wooden clogs and a wooden duck call. (he loves ducks..)

The Visitors Center told me that there were 4 million tulips planted around the city, which was mind-blowing! That is a ton of tulips. But the results were majestic. They lined every street along the curb, and great fields were planted in open spaces. It was certainly a visual treat. Our motelier told us that it is the biggest tourist event in Michigan, which I was not aware of. I haven’t checked this fact, but I could believe it by the sheer number of people who were there. It is just a small time frame in the spring, during the peak of tulip season, but they definitely make the most of it. We took in the sights and then left the city for a little family time away from the biggest crowds.

We wound up in Saugatuck, which is where we were staying anyway. In search of coffee, we bumbled into a newish looking brewery that was a hop, skip, and jump from our motel, thanks to Google literally giving us the closest place that coffee could be found. The Guardian Brewery was new and bright and clean, and the coffee was delicious, probably because they use it to make a coffee porter. And of course, while we were there, we sampled their menu, both food and beer! I had the asparagus and wild rice salad, which was so good, Billy had a grilled ham and cheese, and since they did not have chicken tenders for my picky eater, he had chips and guacamole, that we of course helped him eat. Everything was absolutely delicious. It was a bit of an early bird dinner/late lunch, which put us at a weird schedule, so we went back to our room and let Wyatt decompress and be a kid for a bit, before hopping back in the car and tooling around town, looking about. We had a lovely evening, sitting outside the motel later, in the gloaming, as my dad would say. The motel was empty at the point except for us, so we had the place to ourselves, so we let Wyatt use his duck call. It was just nice to sit out there with our tea and each other’s company.

The next morning we stayed off the beaten path, and had breakfast at a local diner called Vicki’s, where Wyatt proceeded to eat two orders of bacon and a little bit of pancakes. After filling up on toast and scrambled eggs and bacon, we went to the DeGraaf Nature Center and spent a good few hours there, watching birds and hiking around. We are big nature center people, and they had a wonderful one. Wyatt enjoyed all the animals that lived there, especially the two screech owls who talked to us. He wasn’t so sure about the giant rabbit though lol. He is such a bird kid already! He can imitate bird calls almost perfectly, it kind of amazes me honestly. We saw 6 new birds to check off our list, and the pretty white trilliums that bloom in the woods in the spring. We also spotted fiddlehead ferns near a small stream as well! I love their spiral shape as they grow. They also had a small trail of rocks, as I called it, and I was tickled to see that there was a stone called a puddingstone! I am not sure why, but I really liked its name. It just made me smile.

Wyatt was so ready to go back to the room for a bit and get his wiggles out and watch some well-deserved Daniel Tiger, so we went back there for a bit. We spent the rest of the night shopping our way through Saugatuck’s downtown, where I could have probably bought a billion things, but I ended up buying only a book of poems written by a local poet and writer. For dinner we went to The Butler, a tradition for us. It is situated right on the water, and this time, it had special meaning for me. My aunt, who passed away in February, loved this restaurant and would drive all the way across the state to eat there, and then come home after. I think it was more for the experience of it, to just take a road trip, eat, and come home, but it was something she did. It was a moody evening, raining but very peaceful, and we raised a glass to her memory.

The next morning was mother’s day morning, and when we drove into town for breakfast we saw all the ladies dressed up, surrounded by their families, going to their breakfasts. We didn’t have reservations anywhere of course, so we found an awesome little bakery by the water where we literally got the best cup of coffee we had all weekend, and bagels. We had a water view and the place to ourselves and I couldn’t have asked for anything more but that perfect moment with my two guys.

The Tin Can Tourists

On Friday, the Tin Can Tourists rolled into town, with their kitschy quirky vintage charm and reminders of how good life can be. I guess that is a debatable statement depending on who you are – at least for me, it would be a very good life, to tool around in my awesome vintage camper!

It’s the 100 year anniversary of the Tin Can Tourists, a vagabond group of campers that started, well, in 1919, in Florida. This group has a strict code of guiding principles, that begins with clean camps and includes friendliness, decent behavior, and just plain good wholesome fun- a set of principles I can get behind!

These fun, candy colored campers came in all shapes and sizes, and the owners were on hand to answer any questions and allowed entry into their homes away from home. It had rained buckets just an hour before, so you could only stand on the rugs just inside the doorway, understandably, which was more than enough to be able to take in the whole glorious picture. They were all outfitted with the coolest of decor, all old vintage woods, antiques, but also outfitted with the latest appliances like microwaves and some of them even had bathrooms – with tubs! I can definitely see my little family touring the National Parks in one of these babies!

That last one was designed by an airline designer – I can totally see it!

I loved hearing all the stories. One woman, in her senior years, told us of how she found her adorable camper while on a walk with her dog. It was parked on the street with a for sale sign in the window, and she poked around, looking underneath and even through the windows. She liked what she saw, knocked on the door, and told them it was sold, and that she would be right back with the money and a truck to tow it away. She said when she told her son, he was like “oh mom, what did you do now” with a laugh. She was a pretty cool lady and she was so friendly and open. I meant to get a photo of her vest, which was turquoise and covered in National Park patches. She told us that she and her cousin have been bopping out exploring for the past few years – what a great time they must have, and stories they must have.

This one was our favorite. Not as eye catching on the outside as some, but the front window made all the difference. It felt so big and open and airy, so much light. If I were buying right now, this is the kind I would want. The owner was also very friendly and told us this is the way to travel – and agreed the window is amazing. She talked to us while the wind whipped around us, eating her dinner out of an aluminum container, her dogs contentedly hanging out in their pen. Plus, how cute is that gnome! I love gnomes…

We could have stayed all night, talking to some of the owners. They were all so welcoming and I am sure have some amazing stories to share. They are having a rally in Camp Dearborn soon, and then beginning a caravan (like in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape!) through Michigan before heading out to other parts of the U.S. this summer. It’s been 100 years for the club, and also 100 years for Michigan State Parks, so double celebration! Check out their website for more upcoming events, if you are interested, perhaps they will be showing up in your town soon! They also have a ton of information about vintage campers, campgrounds, and their own history, plus some amazing photos.

Like I said, we could have stayed all night talking, but our stomachs were rumbling so we headed across the street to the Little Crepe and Pierogi place and pigged out on pierogis. Well, some of us did. One of us just looked out the window, maybe dreaming of the open road and some good, clean fun.

Earth Day Reads

We are all about nature at our house. We love to be in it, we love to celebrate it, we love to read about it. It is very important to me that Wyatt loves the earth and the outdoors as much as we do, and by exposing him to it through being outside, cherishing all our creatures great and small, and learning by reading as well, we can nourish that ingrained sense of love toward our world and all of its inhabitants. I have a few books that I have put aside just for Earth Day next week – some are old favorites, some are new to us. And here they are, one for each day next week and then a bonus one for fun!

The Earth Book – This one has been in rotation here for a while! Wyatt loves it, so do I. It’s a quick easy read, and has great colorful illustrations.

Me… Jane– This is a great read for kids, to introduce them to Jane Goodall- and to show them that a dream you have as a kid can become reality! We read this one together surrounded by every monkey toy that Wyatt has.

Blackout – This one is a favorite of mine. It is about a citywide blackout that causes families to leave their technology behind and venture out into the community. I love it to pieces and is a good book to use to talk about energy conservation and time without tech.

Fancy Nancy Every Day is Earth Day – It is important to me to make Wyatt aware that our choices for a better planet are an every day thing, not just on earth day!

Biscuit’s Earth Day Celebration – I thought this was a cute look at a few things kids can do to participate in keeping our planet alive and healthy.

It’s Earth Day! – I love Mercer Mayer! Little Critter was a favorite of mine as a kid and I can’t wait to read this one with Wyatt. This is a new one to both of us!

The Lorax – No list about Earth Day books would be complete without the Lorax…I think we might make some truffula trees even!

Bug Hotel – My son loves bugs. We bought a bug house last year but this year I want to really expand on it and do a few other things as well.

And a few books for you!

Two books that I love, and one that is on my list! Meadowland and John Lewis Stempel started a whole new way of how I look at the world around me. The Nature Fix took that a few more steps. I highly recommend them both. And Common Ground just intrigues me! I have it on hold at the library and it’s a waiting game.. (If you like nature narratives I read about one a month, check back for more!)

What about you? Do you have any good earth day/environmental reading suggestions? I would love to hear them!