Fall Fun at Crystal Mountain

fall foliage

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go up north to our parents’ vacation home at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, MI.  You might have read about the resort in another post here.  We used to go up at least once every Fall, but since the kids are older and so busy with sports now, it doesn’t always happen.  Those were the days…getting to take off on the weekend with nary a thought to a child’s schedule.  Well, you’ve heard this sob story from me before, so I’ll stop now.  Anyway, four out of five of us headed up with my parents and sisters.  Chris had to work, plus he was painting our bedroom and I would never dream of slowing down progress!

Crystal Mountain Resort

Hayrides at Crystal Mountain

It really was a beautiful fall weekend.  The colors were unbelievably gorgeous and it was mostly cloudy and wet, which is perfect for lazing around in front of a toasty fire.  If it were nice and sunny, I would have felt compelled to go outside maybe and do something productive…or maybe not.  I don’t know what it is about going up north, but I turn into a slug the minute I get there.  So the rain was not a problem.  Well, not a problem until I took the girls trick-or-treating.  Crystal Mountain had all kinds of special activities planned for the weekend.  There was pumpkin carving, hayrides, a petting zoo, trick-or-treating, a spooky trail, a pumpkin seed spitting contest, and more.  The girls had a great time trick-or-treating in their costumes (Fynn just loves any excuse to wear a costume) at the lodge, the adventure center, and other stopping points.  I had to follow a map, which I confess was a little tricky, but we managed to find all the candy and didn’t get too wet.

fall fun at Crystal Mountain Resort

fall fun at Crystal Mountain Resort

fall fun at Crystal Mountain Resort

But best of all, the wifi wasn’t working, which was great because my girls played games, did puzzles, colored, and even got a little bored.  And I felt like Super Mom because I not only brought them trick-or-treating, but I also did puzzles and brought them to the pool.  Now notice I said “brought” them to the pool.  I sat and watched since my children are fully capable of swimming alone now, praise Jesus.  So maybe I’m not exactly super mom after all, but hey, they were happy and I was happy.  Win-win situation.  Mardi wasn’t quite so lucky…she got to hang out in the exercise room with the boys who wanted to work out.  They needed parental supervision, so she walked on the treadmill while they lifted weights.  Maybe she should get the super mom/aunt award.  As you can see, our standards are pretty low either way.

I have to apologize for this boring post that pretty much offers you, dear reader, nothing.  So please accept my apologies for rambling, but do consider a trip to Crystal Mountain one of these days.  And if Crystal Mountain isn’t in your plans, just spend a day depriving your kids of wifi and enjoy some time together.  Novel idea, I know.

Megan

How do you love to spend a free Saturday afternoon?

Halloween Movies to Get You into the Spirit

I’m in my room, burning a spiced pumpkin candle, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”  Life just doesn’t get much better.  Megan and I absolutely love fall, and with Halloween fast approaching, there are certain rituals that must be adhered to.   My favorite fall ritual, besides baking apple crisp, pumpkin pie, etc., is watching Halloween movies.  Maybe it goes back to my childhood and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin” when it aired on TV.  It was a special night I looked forward to every year.  I’ve always loved The Peanuts, and still do.  It brings back the warm fuzzies I felt when watching those CBS specials as a child.  So now I own “It’s the Great Pumpkin” on DVD and watch it every year.  I watch it by myself (does that sound pathetic?) but I like to have my nieces over to watch it too.  They are good about humoring me!

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

I remember watching “The Birds” as a kid at our old house.  It was a Saturday afternoon in the fall and I just came across it on TV.  I was in our “hobby room,” which was like a little family room.  It had dark paneling and orange plaid carpet, and it was my favorite room in the house.  Hey, it was built in the 70’s!  Anyway, I watched “The Birds” and got really creeped out.  I didn’t see it again until I bought the DVD a few years ago to show my kids.  I told them how scary it was, how I remembered it.  We brought the movie to my friend Jennifer’s house and our families watched it together (after we dressed up like zombies and played zombie tag).  My kids teased me about how NOT scary it was and Sander said “well, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back,” after watching it.  Sander at 12…..now that’s scary.  I just noticed this year that “The Birds” is based on a book written by Daphne Du Maurier.   She also wrote My Cousin Rachel, which I just read this summer.

Alfred Hitchock's The Birds

Another must-see Halloween movie is Disney’s “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”  I remember watching it as a kid, but Kendal for years has put the movie on for the kids after trick-or-treating.  “Hocus Pocus” is a favorite too….it will get you into the Halloween spirit.  My girls grew up watching the “Halloweentown” movies on Disney channel and Manon says it’s not Halloween until she’s watched it.  Movies like these are a fun part of childhood, or in my case, adulthood!

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

My daughter Marek loves Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, so last year we saw “Boo!  A Madea Halloween” at the theater.  It was hysterically funny.  The sequel comes out in a few days and we can’t wait to see it.  So whatever your fall and Halloween traditions, make sure you include a few movie nights.  Pop popcorn, make treats, light a candle, invite friends over, and watch a Halloween movie.  Or if you’re like me and your kids won’t watch them with you, watch them alone or invite your nieces over.  Enjoy the season because Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!

Mardi

What’s your favorite Halloween movie?

Harvest and Halloween Home Tour

Harvest and Halloween Home Tour

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  This week is flying by already!  Actually, the whole month is.  I can’t believe it is almost mid-October.  The kids have already been in school for six weeks, and it seems like they just started.  (Time flies when you’re having fun…I guess I’ve been having fun having them at school.)  Since Halloween is right around the corner, and before we know it Christmas will be here, I thought I better get this post on Harvest/Halloween decorating done…just in case you were dying to see it (wink, wink).

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love decorating my home in pumpkins and lighting candles and just making the house feel cozy.  After barely being inside all summer, I have to admit that it feels good to stay inside and make myself comfy on the couch (well, after soccer and football practices, supper, homework, listening to a violin scratching away, nagging about showers and teeth brushing, and getting everyone tucked in, kissed, prayed over, and a glass of water).  As I’ve mentioned before, I used to put up every decoration I owned, whether I liked it or not, but I have decided that sometimes less is more, and it’s okay to put out only the things I really like.  So this is a much simpler version of what I used to do, but my kids still get excited when I get the holiday stuff out

First of all, what would Fall be without pumpkins?  Lots of fake pumpkins!  It’s amazing how expensive they can be, though, so it’s always a good idea to buy them after the season on clearance.  And you can never have too many!

pumpkins, fall decorating

decorating with pumpkins

decorating for fall with pumpkins

decorating for fall

harvest and halloween decor

 

I LOVE fake crows.  They are simple and match with your existing décor.  Let these babies roost any and everywhere!

halloween decorations, fake crows

decorating for Halloween with fake crows

Mini fairy lights are so fun!  You can stick these almost anywhere and they lend a nice warm glow.

decorating for halloween with fairy lights

You just gotta have a throw somewhere to snuggle under.  I bought this wool blanket for $4 at an antique store!

decorating for Fall with throws

These cute little bats with sticky backs were only 75 cents at Family Dollar.  I would have bought more, but they were sold out.  And the black velvet bow was 90 percent off at Jo-Ann Fabrics!

decorating for halloween

And lastly, you can’t have a cozy house without a great candle.  My all-time favorite fall candle is Yankee Candle’s Harvest scent.  It is the best!

yankee candle harvest scent

I hope you enjoyed this little tour and maybe even found some decorating inspiration for your own home.  I know I love to get sneak peeks into other people’s homes, since I rarely come up with an original idea on my own!  Wishing you a cozy, relaxing October evening, friends!  And hopefully it doesn’t include scratchy violin noises in the background.

Megan

 

Fall Barn Party

Fall barn party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Barn Party

Last week, we had a barn party.  We had been talking about having one for three years now and decided that this was the year.  A picture in a Country Living magazine of a table set up with hay bales for chairs in the main aisle of a barn was the inspiration for our party.  We started working on it a week before so we didn’t have to do everything the last minute.  B-u-t, we still had a ton to do and were busy running around getting everything done right up until guests arrived.  Of course.  That just seems to be how we roll.  And we couldn’t ask the horses to quit pooping for a week, so what’s a girl (or two) to do!

hydrangeas
Beautiful hydrangeas from mom’s yard made the perfect decorations
The barn all decked out and spider web, manure, and almost dust free!

Also, since it was set for September 23rd, we thought it would be perfect fall weather, and a perfect way to celebrate the beginning of the season.  So we envisioned cool, crisp air and thought a soup bar would be an easy way to feed a lot of people.  Wrong.  Mother Nature did not cooperate at all!  It was 90 degrees and hotter than heck.  Who would have thought?!  We sure didn’t, since that kind of weather is extremely rare in the summer here in Michigan, let alone late September.

The chalkboard wasn’t big enough to list everything on the menu!

Well, all week we swept, vacuumed, dusted, knocked down cobwebs, strung lights (zillions!), hauled tables and chairs, decorated, and followed behind the horses with a manure rake to pick up every little poop (okay, not quite, but almost).  All while we sweated our bras off and wondered if it would all be worth it.  And despite the heat, it surely was.  For one, the barn was cleaner than our houses last weekend.

wheelbarrow with mums and pumpkins
An old wheelbarrow is the perfect container for mums and pumpkins

 

Fynn and one of the barn cats

Fall Barn Party

We also had a great turnout!  It was so fun hosting the party at the barn with the horses being nosy and hanging out by the fence checking everything out.  Adults and kids alike enjoyed each other’s company visiting with one another and eating lots of good food.  We made six different soups that were all delicious…chili, taco soup, stuffed green pepper soup, cheesy potato, chicken noodle, and white chicken chili.  We had bread, cornbread, cheese, and crackers.  And between us, Kendal, and our mom, we had a huge dessert table!  Mom made peanut butter fudge and Kendal made apple crisp.  Mardi made sweet and salty Chex mix, almond bars, scotcheroos, sugar cookie bars, and pecan pie bars.  Megan made monster cookie bars, smore’s brownies, and southern pecan praline cake.  We also had some friends bring dessert, too!  It was like dessert heaven!

Fall Barn Party
The bales were a little low…but it just made us all feel like kids!
Manon and Jenna enjoying the hay ride!
More Hay Ride Fun!

We set up a craft table outside for kids, which stayed busy pretty much the whole night.  The older boys played football and the older girls helped out with the little kids.  Chris drove the tractor and gave hayrides through the woods and down the road.  And once the sun went down, we were all much more comfortable.  The trees down the drive were lit up, as well as the inside of the barn, and it just looked so pretty.  We clipped hydrangeas from our mom’s yard and they made the prettiest centerpieces, especially since they were free!  A clipped branch from the woods strung with fairy lights provided decoration for the food tables, along with little baskets of apples and cattails.  Cornstalks adorned the barn inside and out.  And the string lights hanging from the ceiling provided just enough light to keep it festive.  I wish we had beautiful pictures to show you all, but we were so busy visiting that we failed to get great shots.  You’ll just have to use your imagination, as these pictures just don’t do it justice.

Colin wants to make a craft, too! He stayed by the fence all night, trying to join the festivities.
Bryce giving Baby Rye some love.
Milla having fun helping out with our little guests
Can’t beat a good old-fashioned hay ride!

Whew!  You probably weren’t interested in all of the little details, so forgive us.  We are just having fun reliving it, especially since it might never happen again!  Okay, we’re joking…we loved it.  We just haven’t quite forgotten how much work it was yet!  Give us a year!

Fall Barn Party
After the party

Fall Barn Party

Fall Barn Party

In case you are interested in any of the recipes we used, see below for links to any we used online.

No-flour Monster Cookie Bars by Together as Family make a whole jelly roll pan, so they are great for a crowd!

Fudgy S’mores Brownies by Mandy’s Recipe Box…I cheated and used a brownie mix, but they were still delish!


Southern Pecan Praline Cake by The Country Cook uses a cake mix, so easy peasy!

The Best Pecan Pie Bars

The Best Pecan Pie Bars by Rockrecipes.com

 

Almond Bars by Sometimeshomemade.com

The Best Sweet Cornbread from thegirlwhoateeverything.com

And stay tuned for a post on the soup recipes we used, since soup season is finally here…even if it wasn’t the day of the party!

Thanks for reading to the end, friends!  Happy Fall to you all!

Megan and Mardi