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!

A Wonderful Weekend

Sometimes everything just falls into place and things turn out perfectly.

This weekend was like that. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, with that bite in the air that lets you know that fall is here and summer has waved goodbye. I love the crispness, it feels so fresh and alive to me. So weather, en pointe. Add in some of my favorite people and a day of laughter and eating, and it was just the icing on the cake.

A few of my friends and I headed out western Michigan way, to Holland, MI. I don’t know much about this town, except that it does have a windmill and in the spring a tulip festival that looks amazing, full of bright colors and all things spring. There is a college there too, Hope College. And it also has a quaint little downtown, full of boutique stores and restaurants.

We had lunch at New Holland Brewery, a thing which excited a few of the husbands who were back home, who had made requests of their wives to bring them back some sort of special beer that is only made at that particular location. The food was ok, not anything terrible but nothing special either. I think here it is all about the booze. And even though time was just creeping up on noon, we had a celebratory drink to our girls day out. I ordered Full Circle, a kolsch beer. I only drink lagers if I drink beer, and it was a good one! K and J had pumpkin martinis, while C had Dragon’s Milk, which has a fantastic name right?

holland

After we ate, we poked around shopping, in and out of stores, each of us buying what caught our fancy. I ended up taking home with me a soft, warm pair of wool gloves knit in Peru from a Fair Trade store, a t-shirt for Billy, and a cute little Halloween book for Wyatt. I bought those gloves just in time – it is freezing here this week!

After a few hours, we were pretty shopped out and were ready to head to our next destination – dinner! By this time we had worked up an appetite with all that walking around so we were ready to hit the road. We had made reservations in a nearby town at Schuler’s Restaurant, based on J’s recommendation. She had been wanting to go there, and I am so glad that we did! When we got there, we got shown to our table, which was right in front of the fire. It was so cozy and warm, on such a chill night, and the decor was very old world charming.  I absolutely loved it in there. We settled in, ordered our drinks from the fall themed drinks menu, and enjoyed the cheese and crackers that were brought to us as we perused the dinner options.  I ended up ordering the Roasted Beet Salad with salmon, and it was amazing. Everyone’s food looked delicious actually, but for me, it was all about dessert. I ordered the Devil’s Delight, a brownie with vanilla ic cream. This sounds so blah, but so wasn’t. Chocolately and gooey,  warm and delicious with that cold ice cream to save it from being too rich. Yum!

Then Sunday, my hubs, son, and I went to the apple orchard. It was another fantastic weather day, the perfect kind for strolling around an orchard, eating apple doughnuts, and picking out pumpkins. The perfect Michigan fall day, really. The orchard we got to every year, Bennett’s Orchard, also makes hard cider and has a tasting room, so bonus! Lol. We took home a growler of Elderberry Cider, and plan on going back in a few weeks for a cinnamon version for the holidays. The owner told us to cook sweet potatoes in it for the holidays, which sounds like a fabulous idea! As were getting ready to leave, the parking lot was starting to fill up with yogis – they apparently host yoga sessions in the orchard on Sunday afternoons, which sounds like it would be a lot of fun!

Finally, later that evening we made a giant pot of chili for dinner, and watched It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. It was a great end to a wonderful weekend.

Mini-Post: Feeling Peachy!

peach 1

“We are going on an adventure!”

This is what I tell Wyatt every time we leave the house, even if it is just to head up to the store. You never know what the day will bring! Sunday started out dreary and overcast for the third day in a row but we were not letting a little gray sky darken our day. I had a surprise up my sleeve! As I piled the car up with picnic type foods and rain coats, my husband was a bit confused, but he is game for anything so just kind of shrugged before taking the wheel and heading south.

I navigated our family to a favorite spot of ours, Erie Orchards, an orchard my family has been going to since I was a little girl, probably around Wyatt’s age. It was peach picking time! We picked up our bag from the adorable weather-beaten barn store, and rolled our Jeep on over a few dirt roads back to where the peach trees grew.

We could see people over in the blueberry patch, but we weren’t here for blueberries. We had the peaches all to ourselves. And Wyatt had a blast! Some of the trees were small enough for him to stand under and reach the peaches right off the branch, which he thought was the best thing ever! He happily snapped them off and deposited them into our bag.

 

Look at that look of concentration, and he even said peach for the first time!!

We had a wondeful adventure on a day that looked like it was going to be a bummer. The sky was heavy with clouds, which made the day cooler, and their was virtually no humidity. Add a small cool breeze and it was actually pretty perfect.

You just never know where a day will take you.

And now we have 8 lbs of peaches to use. A small thing though for such a fun day!

Anyone have any good peach recipes to share with me?

Still Waiting on Spring

Michigan is still waiting for spring, it seems. Sometimes we get a sneak peek, but then it hides away again. Today is sunny – but also 24 degrees. I have strawberry plants that have arrived and want to be planted, but the ground is still frozen! For now they are living in the house, but I am going to have to come up with a new plan for these guys, my awesome Viking strawberries.

Yesterday was sunny and mild except for the crazy wind. The wind was biting cold when it slammed against you, but when it wasn’t stealing your breath, the day was actually not too bad. Our family celebrated the return of the sun to our area by heading downtown to Belle Isle and visiting the aquarium and conservatory, where we not only got the sun, but we also had humid temperatures, tropical plants, heat. It was wonderful, despite the fact that we were dressed for winter but walking through a greenhouse.

It was jam packed there – I am guessing everyone in the whole metro area was out enjoying the weather. We have had gray skies for too long! This whole state has a Vitamin D deficiency, as we wait for spring.

The garden was beautiful, full of green growing plants, smelling of earth and warmth. We saw a banana tree, a lemon tree, an orange tree, a pomelo tree. Cacti. A ginger plant, pink puffballs. Giant leaves bigger than Wyatt, delicate fronds, wispy ferns. A water fountain. Even signs that a cat lives there somewhere, but not the cat itself, although I would have loved that, and Wyatt would have too. He loves his kitties.

It was a nice day, that we ended with pizza slices from Supino’s, which has the most amazing pizza ever. It was Wyatt’s first time eating there, and he kept asking for more. Another fan is made. We stuck with the basics but I love their pizza with basil – I love basil anything. The slices are huge, thin crusted, so you can just fold them over and eat. But there is something about the crust, some taste, some deliciousness we can’t put our finger on – that is where the magic is. In that crust. We had a car picnic so I didn’t get any photos, but next time I will.

I feel inspired! This week we are going to start seeds indoors. Normally it would be too late, but with this delayed spring I think we should be ok.

How about you guys? Any thing in particular you like on pizza? Are you a thin crust person or a thick crust person?

 

The Importance of Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice cream!

Lately, this family has gone crazy over ice cream.

Vanilla, chocolate, coffee, peanut butter. In a cone. In a cup. In a cup with a cone on top. With coffee, with wine ~ sometimes even with a little whiskey poured over the top with a dash of pepper.  (the adults only versions, of course)

I have to admit, prior to this summer, I was never a huge fan, preferring slushes instead. But my skinny malinky long legs boy loves ice cream. And since he needs to gain weight, he gets it. And since we are there, so do we.

All this ice cream has turned us into ice cream connoisseurs, of a sort. We have a few locally made ice cream parlors around us, and we alternate between them on ice cream nights, every time debating the various merits. This one is creamier; that one is more flavorful. This one has a cuter shop; that one is a local tradition.

We can never come to a definitive decision for a winner.

Ice cream is one of those foods, like Proust’s madelines. I feel it is transportive, can connect you with a place or a memory or a feeling with just a bite. All those celebrations, vacations, lazy summer days.

Ice cream makes me think of my grandfather, who was always this strong, quiet presence in my life. He was a man of few words, but I remember so many nights where we load up into his car, always one of those large, plush interior cars, and I would feel so small but safe and cozy in the backseat next to my little brother and mom. He always went to the same place, Calder’s Dairy, with its white chairs that line the glass wall, and in those days, there was always a line out the door. He would  get butter pecan without fail, and I would get chocolate or superman, and then we would all eat in the parking lot, standing about in the glow from the setting sun. Everyone ate their ice cream so fast, except me. They would be finished while I was furiously trying to finish mine to keep up. As night drew on, on those endless summer nights of childhood, my grandpa always took us on a drive before heading home. Occasionally he would point out places he had worked, or the homes of friends from his younger days, but mostly he was silent, and so was I, as we navigated though neighborhoods unfamiliar to me, the empty cup in my hands, the taste of the rich chocolate becoming a memory, one that I would remember now, a married woman with my own child to make ice cream memories with.

Getting Hygge With It

There is something intrinsically so appealing about the Danish/Nordic lifestyle, the feeling of coziness that they call hygge. As an American, I feel that I can disappear into my endless to-do list, which gets longer everyday. My son has cerebral palsy, and we are running to therapy four days a week. We have at least one specialist doctors appointment a month. And that is of course in addition to all of the rest of our everyday things we have to do, that everyone does. Pay bills, grocery shop, clean, work if we work, go to school, all these things. Where do we find time to indulge our own selves, to take care of our own souls? It’s a rabbit hole for sure. The answer is that we need to find time, make time, just let stuff go a little bit, and enjoy the moments before they are gone.

This is something I have been reminding myself for a week or two now, since reading a few books on the subject, and looking at Pinterest and YouTube.

It’s the food that is drawing me in right now. I used to love spending time in the kitchen, making soup and baking while dancing around drinking a glass of red wine. Now, I feel like food has a different focus. W. is not a great eater. We have to practically stand on our heads to get him to eat, and we always need to add more fat to his food, just to increase calories. His CP also causes him to lose weight easier, as someone with CP actually uses 30% more energy than someone who doesn’t. Last week though, I began to relax a little about food. I would get so stressed about it ~ and I honestly think my stress and anxiety about W. eating was affecting him. The past two weeks he has been eating like a champ. Perhaps it is the food, as I am spending more time making food – and not with medical instructions on my mind, but love. Care. The instinct to feed those that I love good food is very strong in me, and I think by burying that part of myself somewhat, it was reflected in the food I was making, and thereby perhaps extending itself to my boy. I could be crazy, but I do believe that it could happen. We have been enjoying pancakes, muffins, and I plan to make homemade pop tarts tomorrow. I have made lemony salmon, quinoa with avocado and a squeeze of lemon, meatballs for the boy, and he has eaten them all with relish. I’ve used fun plates, my china, and some dishes made by hand by my mother-in-law on her potters wheel, making the meal even more special. (W. does not eat off the fine china however, lol)

And if I end the night with a glass of wine and a Reese’s peanut butter egg, then so be it. By letting myself enjoy the process, I think that W. is enjoying the product. I even had some fun with an ordinary peanut butter and jelly the other day, cutting it into a whale shape when serving it with his all time favorite Goldfish crackers.



The weather lately has also been amazing, and we have been taking advantage of it as much as we can, and in a hygge sort of way. Soaking up nature, the sun, the wind. Walking through the woods, even just sitting and enjoying a few minutes on the porch.

The night though has always captivated my little 2 year old. He is fascinated by it. On some of these nicer nights, we have gone and stood outside, looking up at the dark sky, lit here only by a few stars but still, beautiful, twinkly. He laughs, a real laugh, which rings through the quiet as he throws his arms skyward. A perfect moment, for this mom.