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!

A Girl’s Day Out in Midland

Last Saturday a small group of my friends and I took a little trip away, just for the day. Away from our families and responsibilities for a few hours and it was simply perfect, hanging out together, having new adventures, and eating some pretty excellent food.

We do this every year and while usually we head to the West Coast of Michigan, this year we ventured north, to Midland. Most of us had never been there or really ever heard of it, but Jill had been there and said it was cool so, off we went. However, we went without much plan or direction which could have derailed our journey but luck was in our favor and we had an amazing day.

We started our day with coffee from Starbucks for the drive, then ate when we arrived. Tip for visiting Midland – make reservations before you go. We had no clue that we needed reservations for pretty much everything. I guess we were not aware that it was such a hot spot or tourist destination so we were unprepared to walk into Cafe Zinc at 10 am and be told there were no seats until 2pm. We ended up asking to sit at the zinc bar, which worked out perfectly. Three out of four of us ordered these Nutella and Rhubarb compote crepes, which were out of this world. Seriously delicious. We drank and enjoyed our food, and made our plan for the day.

After filling up on food, we shopped downtown, picking up this and that, whatever caught our eye. I am not a big shopper so I ended up leaving with a new blank journal and some special Halloween candy for Billy and Wyatt. Jill bought a few wooden quote signs that were adorable, Chrissy got a little purse and some candy, and Kelly was the winner of the day when she bought a hanging mobile made from a branch with a hundred paper cranes dangling from it. It was very delicate and beautiful hanging from the ceiling. I am excited to see it up in her house!

From here we headed to the Dow Gardens, a place I have been dying to go for months! I ended up waiting in the Forest Cafe while my friends walked around the woods and through the canopy though, since I had just had my big asthma scare the previous day. I still had fun sitting in the cafe drinking coffee and reading my book, with the woods as a view though. And I was able to get the lay of the land for a return trip there with my guys! Everyone told me the gardens and walk were really pretty – but cold!

The timing of the end of their walk coincided with almost the beginning of the tour of Alden Dow house, which we wanted to try to get in on, despite not having reservations. (our fault for not planning better!) So we scrambled over to the house, Kelly worked her magic, and voila, we got to go on the tour! And it really made the day. It was such an awesome tour!

The Alden Dow house is a fantastic mid-century modern space, designed by Alden Dow himself. 14,000 square feet of house, with two tour groups of twenty, and we never saw the other group once after we started. This house is gorgeous, y’all. Dow wanted a house that was like a seamless oasis of home and garden, believing that “gardens never end and buildings never begin..” And he accomplished this goal, as the outdoors and garden is reflected in every room, and is never far away. Huge windows that open onto terraces and gardens, a floating conference room that is 18 inches below the pond level, so you can literally open a window and be in the water. It felt like being in a boat, the pond and room were so connected. It boggled our minds how the water doesn’t get into the house, but it has never been an issue according to our tour guide, who was the nicest guy.

Dow also built this house with security in mind. It was built after the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, so he installed a safe room in the basement, that is unlike the safe rooms we think of today. It was a huge space, with a place for play for the kids, a fireplace, a plush bright carpet and huge comfy furniture to sink into. Not a bad place to have to hide out if necessary! And it also had its own terrace over the water so you could go outside and enjoy the outdoors as well. I’m assuming that would be if it was a non-emergency situation though! Lol. The terrace was also not accessible to people from the outside so it kept the security feature too. Besides the safe room, Dow situated the bedrooms along one hallway, on one side of the house, the pond side. The windows opened from the bottom and not wide enough for someone to gain entry, and the doors to the rooms did not open from the hallway. They were all in a row with connecting doors, so you could start at one room and head into all the rest locking doors behind you until you were all in one room at the end as well. It was really cool. From the master you could head into yet another room, a morning gathering room that I loved. It was cozy and warm, apple green and wood, with a view over the water and woods, a big fireplace, a table for breakfast, and bookshelves. That would have been the room I was in the most often, had I lived there.

We were not able to take photos of the inside, but I took a bunch of the outside! This tour was the highlight of our day, and I definitely recommend it to anyone in the area. Just do better than us and make reservations ahead of time!

After our tour, it was almost time for our dinner reservation (which Jill made at breakfast, having learned our lesson here) so we headed back into town. We had a quick drink at Whichcraft Taproom, and then bopped over to Gratzi for an early dinner. And omg, what a feast we had! The food was amazing, seriously. Chrissy had mushroom pasta, Kelly had Pollo Mostarda, Jill ordered the Mezzaluna a Costine Corte, and I had the Alfredo da Tavola. Mine actually was prepared tableside in a gigantic wheel of Parmesan cheese, that had been aged near the sea in Parma, Italy. It was quite an experience and I want to eat it again. I want everyone to eat it actually, it was so delicious! However, I was too full for dessert after eating it! It was a sacrifice I was happy to make though, as it really was one of the best things I have eaten, ever, maybe. Lol. The meal concluded with a splash of limoncello and we trudged happily and tiredly, full of carbs, back to the car to ride home.

Midland was a great choice of places to visit – I love being a tourist in my own state, and seeing new things about it. It kind of has a little something for everyone, outdoor adventures, home tours, shopping, good food. If you are ever nearby, I suggest popping in for a day! Just remember to have reservations first.

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!

What Wyatt’s Reading – August

We have been reading like crazy over here! I usually do this post at the end of the month or I try to, but we have been reading so much that I posted early. These are our favorites so far this month… some his, some mine lol.

I am Not a Skunk is a super adorable book about a cat that was mistaken for a skunk – when the family realized it really was a cat, they gave him a home! We were graciously gifted this book by author Ellen Pilch, and Wyatt loves it! The cat in the book looks so much like our Maggie cat!

We read two Mermaid books too – Wyatt loved the story of Pearl, a mermaid whose job it was to raise the moon, and I loved Tallulah, and her petoskey stone. (plus, we are Michiganders!)

I have read Over in a River over and over and over…this was a favorite of Wyatt’s. It had a great map of some of the rivers of the United States and the animals that call those rivers home. Really cool.

Leo Lionni, Kevin Henkes, and Eric Carle are perennial favorites, am I right? I totally love Henkes books and was so excited to share them with Wyatt when he was born. He loves them too, and he is also a fan of Lionni, an author I never really was super drawn to but now see the appeal, thanks to the kiddo. And Eric Carle is just so talented! I do have to say the illustration in this book of the grouchy ladybug saying “Go away” kind of makes me giggle, which is wrong, I know. Something about it though…lol.

Finally our pal Crinkleroot! I love these books to teach Wyatt about nature. This one is a little advanced for him but was a good place to start. And I learned from it too!

Have you read any of these?