Natalie running wild and free at Fredrick Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI. 

Natalie running wild and free at Fredrick Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI. 

We eat so many apples in our household. We're talking Costco sized portions of apples. So, as you can imagine, fall harvest is an agreeable time for us Kladders. This weekend I made Pumpkin Apple Sauce (see recipe below) and despite the summer like temperatures outside, inside it smelled just like Fall. Over the next few weeks we'll take full advantage of Autumn by visiting as many of the orchards, pumpkin patches and cider houses as we can. Goodness I love Fall in Michigan.

But before we skip ahead to apple picking and hayrides, lets touch on ArtPrize. Each year the event seems to come and go at a quicker and quicker pace. Over the last couple of weeks I can't tell you how many times I've heard friends and family say, "We never made it down this year because..." and the list of things that got in the way vary. And we hear you, we've certainly got our list. But our commitment to ArtPrize is slightly unique: I moved to GR for a job with ArtPrize over 8 years ago (I now work at Steelcase) and plainly said, it's something Jeff and I (and now the kids) really enjoy doing together. So it shouldn't take you by surprise that we 'ArtPrized' 5 times this year despite me being out of town for one full week of work during the event. Proof that we do, indeed, love us some ArtPrize. 

I share all of that to say (and to give more meaning to) our opinion about the event this year: we were left wanting more. Is it just us, or was their less art? Is it just us, or were there less venues? Where was Site:Lab this year? Is it just us, or did we see that piece last year? Why isn't this venue packed right now?... it's Saturday afternoon.

This year in particular, there was a slew of opinion articles/blogs speaking to the 'formula' for winning the public vote at ArtPrize. Even the jurors mentioned it during their critical discourse during the final week: something big, a giant drawing or paining, something with a cause behind it... and so on. After 9 years of the same event, are the artists tipped off as to how to get the most votes and win the cash? We're not sure. We're certainly not experts. We're just lovers of the event. But to our friends who 'never made it down' to see the art this year... you didn't miss much. 

Sorry to be the Debbie Downer. Let me leave you on a high note regarding ArtPrize. If there was ever a true Cinderella of the event for 2017 her name would be Red Dirt Rug, which is kind of fitting... dirt rug... Cinderella. You get it. Red Dirt Rug was a time based piece that was installed at the WMU building by artist Rena Detrixhe. By laying out 200 gallons of sifted earth on the floor in a 300 x 480 rectangle and stamping hundreds of soles of shoes into the surface, she created what looked like an oriental rug. It was something we'd never seen before which is not a statement you hear often at ArtPrize these days. Red Dirt Rug did win both the public and juried award for the Time-Based category. Moving on... 

I traveled to Germany for work last month and you can read more about that HERE. I love traveling for work, especially when it means getting to visit Oktoberfest on my free time! Jeff didn't skip a beat while I was gone and upon my return home Natalie seemed more amped about her traditional German Cookie Necklace and Kinder Surprise Eggs than my arrival. Ah, well... she's two (the excuse I tell myself). 

 Real life visual: 9pm return from Munich, Germany to Miss Natalie jazzed about her gift. 

Real life visual: 9pm return from Munich, Germany to Miss Natalie jazzed about her gift. 

These days Natalie is SUPER girlie. We're talking nails-painted, must-always-have-a-ponytail AND a bow-in-her-hair (even when she goes to bed) girlie. She loves all the jewelry and this past weekend I put a bath bomb in her tub for the first time and she was all giggles; it was adorable. The aftermath of glitter will likely remain for weeks to come. Sorry, Thomas. 

 Bath bombs are the new bubbles! 

Bath bombs are the new bubbles! 

Thomas passed the 6 month marker two weeks ago - time. is. flying. He's such a happy guy with his 5 teeth, chubby cheeks and laid-back personality. He's easy to crack a smile and loves him some one-on-one attention. This weekend while shopping at Target with my Mom and the kids (Christmas is coming!) I picked up some adorable jeans and cords that make him look so grown up - whoever said dressing boys isn't fun was never introduced to the Cat & Jack brand. He's rolling and scooting and eating little bowls of real food. I've had to trim is hair twice with scissors which is hilarious to us because Natalie still hasn't had her hair cut yet. 

Jeff was out all last weekend with friends for their annual Guys Golf Trip which is what allowed for Grandma time at Target Saturday morning. And after a busy couple weeks at the office, spending time with my Mom and the kids is just what the doctor ordered. We shopped for Christmas (I wasn't kidding earlier), picked up the essentials (and the nonessentials) and had lunch at Panera, who, by the way, took away the broth bowls from their menu! This likely happened forever ago which tells you how often I eat at Panera. 

With October fully upon us, we're looking forward to the start of the holiday season. We've got our Halloween costumes ready, plans for trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving gatherings are in the works and Christmas shopping is well underway. Enjoy the changing colors of our surroundings and take time to smooch your family extra today! 

POSTSCRIPT - Stuff we're into lately... 

  • Bare Apple Chips - From Costco and eating them by the handful. Organic dried apples (only apples and nothing else!). 
  • Being Mary Jane, the TV show - Recently needed a new 'me' show to watch and started Being Mary Jane. Something to have on in the background while I fold laundry. High powered single female who's navigating work, family and love. Some mindless matter for you! 
  • Hands Free Pumping Bra - Real mom talk: I do not know why it took me this long... why!!!! If you haven't, try it. Life changing. 
 Pumpkin Apple Sauce in progress! 

Pumpkin Apple Sauce in progress! 

PUMPKIN APPLE SAUCE

Place all ingredients in slow cooker on low for about 5-8 hours; stir occasionally; near end use mashed potato smasher to blend ingredients; I left mine slightly chunky to preference. 

  • 9-10 medium peeled/cored apples (of your choice)
  • 1 T cinnamon 
  • juice of 1 lemon 
  • 1/2 C vanilla cashew milk (or water) 
  • 15 oz can of pumpkin 
  • 1 T vanilla 
  • 1/4 C maple syrup (or brown sugar) 

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