Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Social Media Connections While Traveling

Shortly before our recent vacation I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a new to me account called simplycountryhome.  I enjoyed looking through the little vignettes she featured.  When she mentioned visiting her booth in an antique mall, I checked to see where this mall was located.
Wytheville, Virginia
I called out to ask Brett if we would be anywhere near there on our trip to Michigan.  We'll be going right through it was his reply.

JoJo's Attic in Wytheville, Va became a place to stop along the way.
Brett was content to read in the car while I went in search of booth 102.
Before I saw the booth number I knew I was in the right place just by seeing her cute displays.

After enjoying her booth, I selected one thing to bring home with me.
The basket hanging above.  It was just what I had been looking for to hang on the hooks.  She had it filled with greens and petite pine cones.  I can picture changing what's in it to suit the seasons.
While paying for my purchase I decided to share with the lady who was bagging it up how I happened to find them.  Turns out it was her booth so I was glad I told her about this happy coincidence.

Further along on the trip, we had decided to venture off the interstate and travel through Ohio's Amish Country.  We had been through here many years ago (long before IG and YouTube) and decided it might be fun to re-visit the area.
I spent way too much time in one of the gift shops and then we had lunch here:

After lunch as we were driving around trying to decide if we had seen everything, I had a lightbulb moment.
I remembered a YouTuber that I have enjoyed watching who lives in the Amish area of Ohio.  I jumped on my phone and pulled up this video:

After watching it quickly, I consulted my tourist guidebook and set off to find:

If you watch Mary at White Cottage Company on YouTube, this may look familiar to you too.

At the antique mall I didn't see any names on the booths.
As I walked through this one, I suspected I had found the one I was looking for.

It was so fun to see Mary's creativity and talents in person.

As I was leaving her booth I saw this and knew, without a doubt, that I was in the right place.  As much as I would have liked to purchase something from her, I just couldn't find the right thing.

In the aforementioned video, Mary talks about one of her favorite booths (Tammy's).  It was probably the largest booth and very nicely done.  I did purchase a trio of those little white Christmas trees above.  While in that booth I overheard a few women oohing and aahing and then they mentioned Mary's booth.  I think they were fellow YouTube fans.

Another glimpse of Tammy's booth.

The only other thing that called my name was this Apple Pie Spice tin.  I thought it needed to join the Pumpkin Pie Spice as it will soon be time for baking the Thanksgiving pies.  Interestingly enough it is still filled with it's original spice and 39 cent price tag.  I don't think I'll be adding it to my real pie, but it fits right in with the old toy stove display.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Fall Road Trip

Last week we took a road trip back to our home state.
Winding our way through Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and, finally, Michigan, the fall foliage becoming more vibrant as we went.
This rest area in Ohio gave us a welcome chance to stretch our legs and have a snack while enjoying the autumnal beauty.

The main reason for our trip was to visit my sister and brother-in-law.  What a surprise it was to all when we arrived at their house along with a gentle snowfall.  This was early, even by Michigan standards.  As we sat around the table enjoying Norma's delicious homemade chili, the weather outside seemed a bit confused.  The sun was peeking through lighting up the beautiful leaves on the trees as the snowflakes floated to the ground along with a leaf or two.
Inside, memories of my family together around the table warmed me.  The first 42 years of my life took place in Michigan with family together around the table at every holiday.  A brief reminder of those days washed over me as we enjoyed our meal together.

It's hard to go back "home" and not get a bit sentimental.
One day we visited Northville, the town we raised our boys in.
The downtown area was decorated for fall with these gorgeous planters lining the main street.

Another look at the main street decorated for the fall season.

High on our list of places to visit was the local cider mill.
That was always a fall tradition and one that we have missed.
It was worth standing in line for that freshly made doughnut and apple cider.  Naturally a bag of doughnuts and a gallon of cider came home with us.

It was nice to see that the wooden train was still there.
It was once a big thrill for my boys.

Of course I had to check out the unique shops in Northville and nearby Plymouth.  I thought this Thanksgiving display was especially pretty.

We went down memory lane when taking a drive by our childhood homes.  The home that Brett lived in through 3rd grade hasn't changed much.

This was not either of our childhood homes.
It was in the area and we always found the roof to be interesting.  

Since Brett's childhood home was near another cider mill, we felt obligated to pay a visit.  Apple butter and apple sauce came home with us from this one.  When it was time to head home, Brett wasn't sure he could fit everything in the car.  It seems we stocked up on all of the local favorites that we can't find in North Carolina.  


On our last day, the temperature went into the mid 70s feeling much more like a summer day.  In some ways it felt like a condensed version of all of the seasons in Michigan all put together in a week.
So now as the fall color change is just getting underway here, we will fill our glasses with apple cider, head for the patio and watch the squirrels scamper and the trees put on their seasonal show with warm memories of our visit back home.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Outdoors in October

Something red caught my eye as I started out on a walk the other day.
Bending down for a closer look, a photo opportunity presented itself.
Here our fall color change is just getting underway which makes me want to be outdoors enjoying the show before it comes and goes for another year.

A fall outing to the local pumpkin farm put me in the mood for decorating my outdoor spaces.

The coleus by the front door were looking a tad scraggly.
A few gourds and a happy scarecrow were added to cheer things up.

This year that wreath is a bit bittersweet.
Around this time last year a neighbor friend made it for me.  She had so much talent with making wreaths and floral arrangements.  Shortly before Easter she passed away unexpectedly.  She would never take payment for her creations.  Instead she requested a homemade apple pie for Thanksgiving.  She will be remembered as I am preparing my pies next month.

It won't be long until my house plants will be moving back indoors for the winter.
In the meantime, I added a few pumpkins to the patio to herald the season.

I added a leafy garland and a pumpkin to the patio table.
The garland lights up adding nice ambience to the evenings.

Over the weekend we took a walk through the woods and noticed that somebody had been decorating in there.

In the woods there is a tree house built around a large old tree.
It's a popular destination for visiting grandchildren.

Small pops of color to be found here and there.
I see many more woodsy walks in our future.

Somehow I always seem to pick up treasures on my woodsy walks.
Pockets and hands are filled when I get home.
There are some really cool nut pods that are partially opened.  I think they might be hickory nuts.  Might have to pop them all in a basket for another fall decoration.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Fun Fall Projects Courtesy of the Local Thrift Shop

One summer day I was strolling through the thrift shop and came across this lovely loaf pan.  My thoughts turned to autumn and how nice it would be to make a loaf of pumpkin bread that not only tasted good, but looked pretty too.

I know the Nordic Ware brand makes some beautiful baking pans.
Having never used one before, it seemed like a good opportunity to try it out.  The pan looked as if it had never been used and the price was only a few dollars.  An internet search tells me that they go for much more than that at places like Williams Sonoma.

Once home I hopped on the Nordic Ware website and printed off this recipe for a Spiced Pumpkin Loaf.  I tucked the pan and the recipe in the cupboard and waited patiently for autumn's arrival.

Today was the day to pull it out of that cupboard and spend a little time in the kitchen baking.

There you have it.
One pretty and tasty Spiced Pumpkin Loaf.
Brett & I shared a slice to see how it turned out.
He claimed we needed a few more slices just to be sure we liked it.

Before we got carried away and ate the entire loaf, I put it under cover for safekeeping.
That domed cake stand was another recent thrift find.
I decided I wanted one and the next time I was thrifting, there it was.  Just waiting for me.  
The dome part is very heavy.  Perhaps that is so we think twice about how hard we want to work before going back for another piece?

Another recent thrift store find was this silicone squirrel and acorn
mold.  When I saw it a little light bulb went off.

A little more time in the kitchen to make some little fall soaps.
I had some simple soap making supplies from another time I made soap.  It was just enough to do these.  Since they are white, I added some grated nutmeg to give them little flecks of brown and to add a subtle fall fragrance.

A Very Happy Thanksgiving To My Canadian Friends.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

From the Herb Garden to the Autumn Kitchen

Happy Fall Y'all

As the heat and humidity of a southern summer has loosened it's grip, we welcome cooler temperatures and sweet, fresh air making it's way into the house through open windows.
That cooler air seems to give me a burst of energy that was in shorter supply over the summer.

Last week I used one of those bursts of energy to empty out my herbs and spice drawer.  The drawer got wiped out and each jar was gone through to see what needed to be replaced or tossed out.  Once that was done I organized it in a more logical fashion.  It felt good to have that accomplished in time for all of the cooking and baking that will be taking place in the coming months.

For the first time, I decided to dry chives from my herb garden.
After washing and drying them, I snipped them up and set them in shallow bowls on the kitchen counter.  In a few days they were dry and ready to make a tasty addition to scrambled eggs, potatoes, soups or just about anything that could use a hint of mild onion flavoring.

I recently learned about drying herbs in a paper bag.
With this method I washed and dried the herbs and then put them into a paper bag leaving plenty of breathing room around them.
From there they went into a dark closet.  Every few days I would give the bag a couple shakes.  In a week or two they were dried beautifully.  No oven or dehydrator required.

I successfully dried oregano, parsley and lemon balm using that method.  The next thing I will be doing is mint.  Sometimes the mint seems like a nuisance as it is taking over and growing rampant.  But then something makes me remember how delicious it is.  In this case, it was the other evening after having a rather late and heavy meal for dinner.  I prepared a cup of mint tea and enjoyed it on the patio.  Darkness had set in, the autumn air so refreshing, solar lights adding color to the darkness and the nocturnal animals heard, but not seen.  We rarely sit outside in the dark.  This turned out to be an enjoyable after dinner ritual, particularly now that the patio is screened and the mosquitoes left Brett alone.  The tea was better than an after dinner mint and seemed to work wonders in helping to settle that heavy meal.

My dried herbs have also been making their way into new uses.
Something I learned about from this book:

Combinations of herbs and spices that can be mixed together and sprinkled onto our food to add beneficial health benefits.  

I have learned so much from this book.
It has made me want to appreciate and use the herbs I grow to the fullest.  I have also become familiar with herbs and spices that I had never heard of.  Her knowledge and presentation (like the thoughts above) really resonate with me.  A fairly simple way to work at keeping myself and my family healthy.