Provin Trails in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Provin Trails in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

I'm just over here making all the soups because, at last, (we knew it was coming) our Michigan Fall weather finally showed up. Last week I made an incredibly easy butternut squash soup recipe using the crockpot and it turned out fantastic. I ate the leftovers for lunch today and with the cooler weather, it tasted even better! Not to say that we haven't enjoyed the warm temps and sunny skies... 

This past weekend was perfect for hosting the annual Smith Family & Friends Bonfire at my folks house down in Schoolcraft, Michigan. It's a tradition well over 10 years old now that includes a potluck dinner, beer pong tournament and of course, a massive bonfire. Each year my Dad calls into the local fire department to let them know the date of the event. By now, we've learned to warn them so they aren't rushing out to every 911 phone call. A weekend out in the country is just what our family needed after a busy week at home. 

Since our last update our basement got carpeted (just waiting on trim and paint for it to be complete), I chopped my hair, we started a new house church with friends from our neighborhood, I attended my first Women's Golf League Board meeting and we somehow squeezed in family photos. Thank you, yet again, James Fry for the fantastic photos. 

On the 13th I hosted our dear friend Amber's baby shower at our house. Her and her husband Jon are expecting a baby boy in early January. Amber writes a blog as well and you can read more about her adventures HERE. Amber went to high school with Jeff and she and I became close after Jeff and I started dating. The shower was great: we played games, ate lots of cheese, drank Hugos (a new cocktail I was turned onto during Germany travels), opened gifts and chatted all the girlie stuff. It was a successful event and the mom-to-be left with a car load of goodies and in return, Amber gifted me a bottle of vodka for playing hostess. All that to say, Pro Tip: forget the thank you note, send vodka! 

On the 11th Jeff and I were invited to a Farm to Food event in Alto, Michigan (about a 30 minute drive from GR) hosted by USA Today in partnership with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The 3 course dinner was prepared by Chef Sarah Welch of Outstanding in the Field in Detroit which was followed by a very surprising and delicious dessert of Captain Crunch pancakes by Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli.  All parts of the meal incorporated dairy including the signature cocktail, a milk-washed punch. While we ate, USA Today facilitated a moth-story-telling portion of the evening where we heard from 3 speakers including a representative from Feeding America, Chef Giorgio (who made the dessert) and one of the owners of Swisslane Farms (where the event was hosted). All in all the food was fantastic and we left feeling pretty solid about how much milk Natalie consumes. Part of our participation in the event was signing away rights to use the photos and video scheduled to be released in a few weeks. Curious to see how the coverage turned out and I'll be sure to share it when it's published. 

And as much as I'm at peace with the cooler weather, the rain however, can stop anytime. I had really hoped to make it out to Fredrick Meijer Gardens and Klackle Orchards this week for family date nights. I'm still holding out hope for clear skies this Saturday for The Zoo Goes Boo at John Ball Zoo. If not? I'm certainly down for a return visit to Koetsiers Greenhouse where they bring the outdoor fun inside! If you're looking to get out of the house with the kids in this mess, Koetsiers is the place to be. For $10/kid you get hours of bouncy house, corn crib, tractor racing, pumpkin painting fun! And... AND, it comes with a bag of popcorn. Kladder approved. Bonus, you can pick up mums and more while you're there. Be warned, they don't have donuts so plan accordingly. 

Our costumes are ready and we're looking forward to Halloween fun on Rosewood next week followed by our first family of four vacation to Palm Springs, CA. But before we go, for the love of all things holy, we're sending as many positive vibes as we can to mother nature for good trick-or-treating weather! Stay dry everyone! 

POSTSCRIPT - Stuff we're into lately... 

  • Big Bobs Pizza - Tucked just off the main drag in Gaslight Village behind the dry cleaners you'll find Big Bobs Pizza and it's perfect for all your family dining needs. It's on our list of where to 'happy hour with kids'. Last weekend we took our own advice and the pizza did not disappoint. 
  • La La Land, the movie - Yes, we finally just watched it. Jeff hated it. I loved it. But no one warned me how sad I'd be at the end of it. Good date night in paired with a bottle of wine. 
  • Vander Mill - Great spot for dinner with family. I recommend the veggie hash. 
 Veggie Hash at Vander Mill in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Veggie Hash at Vander Mill in Grand Rapids, MI. 

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