A Great Holiday and a Return to Routine

I had a wonderful time with my family the last few days! From the Saturday Solstice to Sunday at my dad’s for our holiday celebration, to Christmas Eve with my husband’s parents, to Christmas Day with my family, we had busy days packed with loved ones.

On Saturday we celebrated the return of the sun, and our love of nature by going on a nature hike at our favorite metropark. We have been having some unseasonably warm days these past few days, so the weather was actually beautiful. As we walked through the woods, looking for signs of winter, a flock of geese flew directly overhead, honking their hellos. Later we made sure we fed the birds and other wild things in our neighborhood a little feast, filling up our feeders to the brim and giving them some special treats as well. We finished up our evening with a beef stew over polenta and Nantucket cranberry pie, read a few picture books, and looked back on our year of hikes, some of the highlights, some of the things that we saw along the way. We also talked about our journey with the Kids Moon Club that we took last year, where we all learned a lot! We signed up as Lifetime Members and are looking forward to this new year.

Our three Christmas’ were fun as well! Wyatt had a blast with his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and was a lucky little guy who received some thoughtful and fun gifts as well! Lots of dinosaurs and musical instruments and books and baking toys, and some exploration gifts from us too – including a bird call that I am currently listening to. Billy and I never exchange much with each other, we do “small” Christmas for each other and feel so happy to have received this beautiful bracelet and another John Lewis-Stempel book, about owls no less! He also bought me a warm wool hat, gloves, socks and a set of blank books. We had a wonderful few days, the best of all being all the family time.

Today we start to get back to our normal non-holiday life. Wyatt is getting all the time he wants to play and explore his new things, to just play and relax and have fun. We will have music on, a full coffee pot for me, and I will attempt to make some dent in putting our house to rights. But on some level, I enjoy doing this after a holiday, saying goodbye to some things, rearranging, making way for new. We will leave the tree up a while longer, but I really need to dig out our bedrooms which have taken a huge hit. They became a bit of a dumping ground in between holiday events!

I hope that you all are enjoying your holiday season!

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!

Date Night: Ragtime Street Fair and Motor Muster

It was a spur of the moment type thing, this date night, and sometimes those are the very best kind. Greenfield Village was having its annual Ragtime Street Fair and we were having dinner with my mom who lives nearby, so it was so easy to ask her to watch the little man for us for just a quick few hours out.

I have always wanted to go to the Ragtime Street Fair and this was the first time we managed to get there for it. It was super cool to see people dressed in period clothing for the 20s, strolling in and out of the street fair tents full of food and drink. It was another motor muster, with old cars lining the streets but this time, the ages of the cars were limited from early 1900 to the ’30s, and nothing “newer” than that. The village was open late for this event, and we got there just as people were leaving, probably having been there for hours already during the day. My brother had gone earlier in the day and said that it was packed, so we weren’t sure what to expect. We had a little bit of a hard time finding a parking spot, but once inside it wasn’t bad at all.

It was one of my favorite weather nights – cool, moody, clouds in the distance threatening rain, yet still summery with no humidity. We were able to walk around comfortably, checking out all the cars and chatting with the owners. We ambled a bit, bought drinks, and noticed everyone lining up on the curbs to watch the twilight parade of cars, so took our own seat on the side and peacefully watched the cars drive by for a little bit, sipping our drinks, comparing favorites, just existing side by side for a bit, easily. When we finished our beverages, we scrambled across the street between cars to check this one out – we had never seen anything like it before!

This car is so cool! It can drive in thirty feet of snow, and the owner said that he had taken it out in the snow many times – why not, he said, and really, if I had this I would take it out too! He couldn’t drive it in to the village like that but brought it in on a truck. It is a 1929 Closed Cab Model A Ford Pickup with a super Snow Bird Snowmobile attachment. According to the guy, and his sign. It was used for mail delivery, and I am assuming lots of other purposes too. I think I need one of these to handle our Michigan winters! Lol. And of course the buffalo plaid clothing hanging there – I am a sucker for buffalo plaid anything.

We chatted with the owner for a bit then wandered off to the garden, one of my favorite spots in the village. It was a great time to go, and now at the end of the year the blooms are fading but there were some plants bearing fruit, like tiny ornamental eggplants that looked like pumpkins! I am definitely adding that to my garden next year! We were on a slow roll tour of the village, so we took a seat in the garden watching the sun begin to set.

We sat for a few minutes, taking it all in, chatting with other people strolling through the garden, guessing what the different plants were, before setting off and catching up with the parade on the other side of the village. A man in an old Ford truck offered us a lift to sit on his hay bales in back, and we almost took it, but chose to keep walking, although, it would have been fun. The clouds started to really roll in and we had a feeling it was going to start to rain and wanting to beat the crowd out, we started heading toward the exit, slowly making our way there.

I had my head in the clouds, the sky was so dramatic and beautiful. It was one of those times I itched for my camera, not just my cell phone camera. I put my camera away a few years ago, as I felt I was missing moments, trying to capture them. I wanted to be fully present and not just the person behind the lens. I will probably pick it up again at some point, but not just yet, unless I go out and solo shoot.

The night was low key, mellow, and last minute. And we had a wonderful time together; we were able to talk and listen to each other, something that we don’t actually always get to do, with Wyatt around. Lol. It was one of those nights that was easy and simple and didn’t need to be a big thing to have fun.

It’s Wednesday! What are you listening to?

So, this is obviously a little riff on Monday’s What Are You Reading post that is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. I don’t really intend for this to be a weekly feature, but I thought this would be pretty fun, maybe once a month or three. And I would really really love to know what you guys are listening to!

Let’s start with podcasts.. I am in love with them. I have some that I listen to when I am sans child, since they are not appropriate for his little ears, but we have a few that we listen to together too.

Family Podcasts

Storynory – This is a great storytelling podcast! They share classic stories, fairytales, myths, even poems and all told in a fun, easy listening way for kids. Stories have great sound effects too, to make it more of an experience! Our favorite episode: The Owl and the Pussycat (super short, but I LOVED this poem as a kid and so does Wyatt now)

Circle Round – Another storytelling podcast, presented by NPR. This one is based mainly on folk tales, and some even are read by actual actors. I love the different range of stories that they present on this podcast, and they often pair with orchestras to add music as well. Our favorite episode: The Piper and the Pooka

Ear Snacks for Kids: This is a new one for us, we just found it, so no favorites yet but we are having fun discovering all of their quirky songs based around art and science and culture. We listened to one about teeth and teeth brushing this morning and it was so fun – who knew that topic could be so funny?

Classics for Kids: So, this one, I am pretty sure Wyatt is not paying too much attention to what the hosts are saying, but is just enjoying the music they play. Lol. However, I have learned from this one! Another one new to our lineup.

My List:

Lore by Aaron Mahnke: The first podcast I ever listened to, and I still love it. Mahnke has a way of unfolding a tale! I love his eerie, spooky tales that he slowly unwinds for us, bit by bit. So good! I actually listen to this if Wyatt is around, most of the time, unless the topic is too macabre. Lore is also a show on Amazon and Mahnke has a few books out too! Favorite episode: Black Stockings

America’s National Parks (L.L. Bean): I love this one!! Different stories about the history of our national parks, the people who have visited or worked there, and celebrates the wild nature of them all. I have so many favorite episodes, but here are three that I have made family members listen to because I wanted them to hear these tales: Favorite Episodes: 37 Days in Yellowstone, Alone on a Winter Island, and The Strange World of National Park Gift Stores.

My Favorite Murder: Another old favorite- Karen and Georgia and their quick witted banter lends a much needed mood lifter at times during this true crime podcast. However, this one is not safe for children to listen to, due to language and violence. Favorite Episode: The Live in Glasgow episode

Living Homegrown: A new one to my list, all good stuff about sustainability and how to live on the farm without actually living on the farm, tips on how to live closer to your food source while living somewhere you don’t really have access to land. The podcast was on a hiatus due to Theresa Loe’s cancer, but I think the podcast is starting back up again.

I usually use Spotify pretty exclusively, because I can listen to music and podcasts all in one place. Plus I have the app on my television now, so I can just play everything right from my tv, which has way better speakers. I have to be honest, my music lists are pretty bare! I could use some suggestions and help!

What we are listening to – music:

The National Parks – I had never heard of this band until I was searching for the National Parks podcast. Lol. They are pretty good, mellow for slow mornings or evenings, and coffee or wine.

Lord Huron: Sort of similar in sound to the National Parks, I discovered them for the first time while watching a vlogger on YouTube that we love, Trout and Coffee (jeez, I could do a post on vloggers too!)

The Okeedokee Brothers: So this one is Wyatt’s choice. They have so many albums for kids, and they are folky, bluegrass music, lots of nature imagery. We listen to them a lot! So much that now I actually am a fan too. Lol. Particular favorites here are Jamboree, Through the Woods, Evergreen, and Thousand Star Hotel, and Howl. Look them up on YouTube too, they have little movies!

And some people need no introduction – Tom Petty, Carol King, Van Morrison, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Luke Coombs. We also listen to a really cool playlist called Classical Nature – I found I love Gustav Holst’s The Planets! Wyatt loves Flight of the Bumblebee. There is of course other stuff that we listen to, but these get the most play. This list is so different from what I used to listen to! I had no idea musical taste could change, but ours seems to have. My husband was a Skinny Puppy, Misfits kind of guy- I listened to a lot of alternative stuff and wore a lot of black. But now? We are country music, folk music type of folk. Lol.

So… I would love to hear what you are listening to! I could always use more suggestions! Do you listen to any of these?

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?

Saying goodbye to Summertime Snippets…

As summer is ending and falling into fall, school is back in session, and the easy breezy summer days are no more for this year. And that is ok, there is a season for everything. I can see the change of seasons in my photos, as summer images give way to autumn.

Late summer meant trips to the aquarium, summer music class, visits to Greenfield Village with grandparents. ..

Family nature hikes, surrounded by a canopy of green, the last of the water lilies dotting the water (they were gone the very next week!), Sandhill Cranes before they leave for warmer climates..even a woolly bear caterpillar spotted on a little leaf. Don’t worry though if you are not a fan of snow, this woolly bear says we are in for a mild winter!

Playing in the dirt everyday all day, ice cream on the lawn, ground cherries that we found growing in our back garden, and spontaneous hugs from my kiddo.. (those aren’t seasonal though!)

This week we are getting ready for the harvest moon! I feel we have officially reached fall!

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.