Autumn is Here

The Next-door Treat Map is back.

Trunk-or-Treat will park on Hughson Ave on October 29.

The Hughson Arboretum is holding its first Fall Festival on November 6.

We’ll go there after stopping at Vintage at the Yard.

The Community Thanksgiving Dinner is handing out Thanksgiving meals on November 13.

We learned some ways to cope with life as it changed in March of 2020. We learned ways to gather apart from the usual means and traditions. We experienced stress and had to find ways to cope with new stress. We found ways to support our neighbors and their businesses when they were forced to close.

I mean, I hope we learned a lot.

The strange thing for me, to be perfectly honest, is that the last two years were less of a crisis than the two years that began six years ago this month. That was the month when the path my family and I traveled altered forever. It was the day of a diagnosis. It was a day of grief and coping and processing all the changes that would take place.

I processed for 19 more weeks before I met my son. At the moment, he is riding in a borrowed pick-up with his father/my husband to pick up lumber for our kitchen shelves.

As at the beginning of 2020, the crisis in our lives began in degrees. In 2020, it was a news story here and there, inexplicable flu, or strange rumors. In 2015, We received the diagnosis, an appointment in San Francisco and found a good Facebook group for support.

But then it came and it walloped us. Our son was admitted to the hospital and things got scary. In 2020, the world shut down. It was no longer just the naturally driven crisis of a novel coronavirus running rampant across the globe, but schools were closed, businesses were closed, churches were closed. The fabric of our society was shut down. Life went digital and thanks to the social network’s algorithm, the divisions between us were heightened. All the old ways of coping were taken away.

And in 2016, I lived in the hospital beside my son, away from my other children, my husband and my home.

The hospital chaplain at the time, now a family friend came to visit us last week. He shared that he could see now why I was so homesick back then, what I was homesick for. Not just the home, but the responsibilities. I was homesick for the pattern of life built into my heart, stretched across relationships and duties to my children. I am a wife and a mother and I was homesick for the loss of all that as I sat beside my son in a place that was not my home, learning to be a mother in new and terrifying ways.

But I learned.

In 2020, we learned to gather outside more often, to embrace the good weather. We learned to use curbside pick-up. We learned to forgive when anxiety got the best of the people we love.

After two years, our storm calmed, and in 2017, I took the lessons I learned from the hospital and brought them home. Our lives changed forever. My mothering changed forever. And I am better for it.

Right now, the world wavers a little as it opens back up. We navigate the ways between those who wish to keep caution and closures and those who are ready for a new phase, any phase, to begin.

What lessons are you going to bring with you? What memories can you keep that reveal that in all the crises, some good can be found? What relationships have grown, been healed or are now restored that you can see differently?

It would be so easy to just “go back to normal” but we’re called to more than that.

Autumn is a time of tradition and reflection. In this particular neck of the woods, we see our farms haul in their harvest while our gardens revive after the scorching summer. Fire seasons wanes and we wake to blue skies again.

Hold on to what you have learned. Savor the return of things you lost. And take it into this next season of life.

Photo by Oliver Hihn on Unsplash

Slow Food and Artisan Recipes and You can, too!

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch


Living seasonally, we can feel the changes more deeply. The peaches are long gone, watermelon season fades, squash arrives in droves and apple season arrives. For months my home and children will be joyfully inundated with granny smith apples. Some apples will turn to sauce, some will be roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon, some will be buried in pie crust, and a great many more will be eaten whole, entirely whole, because no seeds will stop these children from enjoying every last bite.

Pumpkins began to fill my house in early August. They are on the mantle, end tables, dining tables, china cabinet. Little warty gourds punctuate their space with character and whimsy.




Above the window hangs a banner made simply with orange, linen-look fabric from Rainbow Fabrics, a permanent marker, printed words from the computer and graphite paper. It reads “Beatus Autumnum”. The phrase, meaning“Blessed Autumn,” lasts longer than Happy Halloween and it seems more special to us in Latin than English.

Soup season has begun. Tomato basil from the last harvest outpouring, acorn squash and butternut squash. My husband experiments with recipes, but his classic melts me over every time.

Grilled cheese sandwiches accompany the tomato basil soup. The bread is homemade. The vegetables are garden grown. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? I hear it and read it and it sounds like the high life, so artisan, but actually, we do this because it is what we can afford. With four kids and two freelancers, we have to grow our own vegetables and bake our own bread.

The things that make the season richer are actually the things that cost less in money and more in time, planning and effort. The payoff is greater.

You can get raspberries and strawberries year-round. You cannot find canned pumpkin in spring, but only so sales will boom in the fall (and who buys it in spring, anyway?). Out society is very seasonable about pumpkin, but for fruit and the delicacies of summer, people head to the store and buy it at will.

The same for apples. The same for carrots. Well, my family eats carrots year-round, too.

It is a form of slow living to allow the seasons to exist in themselves. A vegetable garden can be had on a small plot of land. I sent my grandmother home with a handful of fresh herbs and acorn squash. We grow the squash at my parents’ house outside city limits, but the herbs are right there, in the front yard.

The kids are living on green smoothies. Kale and chard grow alongside my lawn (in some cases, in my lawn) and the blueberries were picked at Vanderhelm Farms in June, then frozen.

The good life is at our fingertips inviting us to enjoy the moment, the season.

Last year our garden did not thrive. We ended up with mostly chard. The winter conversation was “just get it in the ground.” Forget planter boxes, diagrams and fancy plans, just get the seeds in the ground.

Now I have sunflowers on my dining table.




30 minutes of work a day, then the effort to cut and remember to use. It can be done. There are endless resources on how to do it. For us, the biggest step was to make a choice to go the less convenient route. There is an element of self-control to plan your recipes around what they are selling at the fruit stand of what sits on your kitchen counter after a harvest. If you live in a place with traditional winters, the planning is all the more important. We do not have that problem here.

For an outing, we drove out to Indegny Reserve, packed a picnic with acorn squash soup, fruit bars and leftover pizza.

We do not subsist solely on stuff we grow. We live in town after all, and the United States, and the 21st century. I love that if I need something, I can usually find it. In my mind, the produce makes the season, and if it gets children excited, therein lies the joy of parenting.

After the effort, I find myself excited for apple season.



Discloser of Material Connection: I am a freelance writer for the Hughson Chronicle. As such, this is a “sponsored post,” reprinted with permission. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Making Decisions

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch.

There will be a lot of decisions to make this season. Should I go to this event? Take on this activity? Host this dinner? Take that trip?

Mine is the type of personality to get an inspiration and dive in. Because my inclinations were never for risky behaviors, it was safe to say I could just back out of if things did not work out. What do I have to lose? What is the worst that could happen?

When my husband and I married we moved to Virginia for me to attend graduate school. Why wait to start a family? I knew other students with a child or two, and another on the way. Taking risks meant being open to readjusting the plan, and not lamenting too much over it. That was the most consistent plan in my life, other than serving God and family.

The first step for me is to consider what do I really want? Do I want an intellectual activity to stimulate thought? Do I want a business endeavor to contribute to my family? Perhaps I am looking for light-hearted company and conversation? Or perhaps I am looking for a way to give of myself and from my experiences that take place outside the home. Maybe all I want is to get outside the home without spending money. When I know what I want, I can start to assess my options.

There was a time in my life when it was easy to make commitments. All I needed to do was assess how much time I have. Now I can only make commitments with a return policy because family circumstances require sudden cancellation at times.

I wanted community, and I wanted to give and have a place to go. I decided to get more involved in the Young Ladies Institute (YLI) at St. Anthony’s here in Hughson. It has so many things I have been looking for: community, close locale, and a way to give.

My urge is to organize and lead events, but I might have to cancel. So I will co-chair. That way, if I need to disappear, I have a backup. The more honest I am about my limitations, the better decisions I make.

I know another woman who is making decisions about her commitments. Her method is to look in one direction, YLI will be her “thing” and she will look away from other options that arise. This frees her up to volunteer for this or that. She can assess her availability based on her young children and husband’s work schedule. It works.

Another friend, who experiences fatigue, has to make decisions based on her energy level. She plans no more than two activities a week in order to conserve energy for taking care of her young kids.

What do I want and what conditions do I need to do it? Knowing these things ahead of time helps prepare me for those moments when I need to decide quickly. Emily P. Freeman, author of Simple Tuesdays and A Million Little Ways, in consider pro/con lists, encourages the reader to first make a list of priorities. What are the things that are most important to me, and in what order? An activity might sound great for me, but if it is a strain for my spouse, and my spouse is more important than the activity, then that “con” weighs more.

When we know what is important to us, too, it strengthens us for the times when it is difficult to say no: when we are needed, when no one else is stepping up, when someone asks for help. Awareness of priorities (like caring for my children) can help make sense of why other commitments matter (like self-care away from home so I can better care for my children).

I change plans less often with this in mind. There still may be cancellations, but only because one priority trumps another. Most people are understanding of that. And frankly, if they are not, then they probably should probably move down a place or two on the list.

Fall Decor

I grew eager for the beginning of fall. I decorated early last year as a way to protect myself against the fear of being gone from home. This year has been leisurely, still eager for the end of hot weather, but calm in decorating.

Routine decorating both gives me something to look forward to and makes execution easy. I hung our Beatus Autumn banner, which means “blessed autumn.” More seasonal than “Happy Halloween” and less cheesy than “welcome fall” since it is not routine for me to talk to the seasons. But you know, Lorelei Gilmore talks to snow, so who am I to judge?


I love the pop of orange against the neutral space. This rectangular tablecloth came from TJ Maxx years ago and still works well on a round table which finished with blue placemats from Crate and Barrell. The candlesticks are a combination Good Will and Ikea, with a marble compote that came into my life as a Christmas gift. And garlic, you know, for the vampires.


To the left of the table is my Hoosier style cabinet I use for my china. With a couple pumpkins and another pop of orange from 1960’s art class, it feels like fall to me.


We have a smaller table near the entry with a drop-spot tray and small succulent. A few details make it festive.


Turn from there and you see the living area. My husband cut the crows for the window. The leaves outside have not yet learned it is fall, perhaps because it is 90 degrees today.


Detail of the mantle. I used lanterns that work for every season, fresh pumpkins and gourds, a few springs and antique broom. I favor decorations that pack easily. I want all my specifically-fall decor in one box and no more.


Our home comes with a silly nook for a television for those who are so inclined. Right now it houses some art, a small table, and floor pillows. We have plans to build a bench the kids can sleep on. I made blankets last year with flannel and no-pill fleece backing as Christmas gifts and kept a few for myself.


I was pleased with the look of the couch one color was added, orange from West Elm and blue from last year’s batch of blankets. The pumpkin on the table is so heavy the kids do not try to move it.


I like my seasonal art spot. It is another way of marking the changing time. Below is an art print from Pat Palmerino whom we met at the Alexandria Farmer’s Market in Virginia. I framed it myself with a frame I took from my mother and blue matboard from Michael’s (custom cut with my Logan mat cutter).


I tucked our “Pumpkins for Sale” sign in the window behind the couch, hopefully, to be used streetside next year.


A little touch outside the door to welcome guests.


I seek a moment of beauty wherever I look in my home. There might be dust or toys underfoot or crumbs beneath the table, but beauty speaks louder than the mess. If it weren’t for crumbs and toys and a little dust, it would not be lived in, it would not be home. It would be incomplete.

I would like to add more pumpkins to the outdoors, but there is no telling what the children will do with them.

Blessed Autumn.

Autumn’s Idea

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch

School is starting again. Methinks the summers are shorter, but the forecast tells me otherwise. Camps end. Lessons begin. Traffic increases.

As I wrote before, this was the first summer in which I experienced the promise of summer, of adventure. Through Scout’s eyes, Harper Lee tells us, “Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.” Summer is this abstract thing, this idea of a season. Here, it consists of barbeques, late evenings, local festivals, Hughson’s/Modesto’s/Turlock’s Farmer’s Markets, flowers from Kelley Flower Farm, and the County Fair. In this abstract thing is relaxation and exploration, camping and lake visits, quitting music lessons for Disneyland, and holidays at Knight’s Ferry.

But most of all, our summer seasons are something real, not abstract. What is the thing you had this summer that could not be had any other summer by any other person? It is the memory you take away with you. The treasure you will keep. Summer brought to Scout a boy named Dill and the adventures they had with him. The real thing you have in summer does not need to be because of summer. It may only be coincidence. It becomes the memory you can take with you into next summer. It is how memories are made and how traditions build into the abstract idea making it fuller, richer, stretching its shadow into the end of spring next year, plumping the time up with anticipation of the real thing again.

The real thing feeds the abstract thing. The abstract thing is passed down, just as each kid reads To Kill a Mockingbird. Southern summers are different than California summers, which are different than Midwestern summers. Public school summers are different than homeschool summers, which are different than full-time working summer. Still, the abstract thing is passed along. We feel the spirit of summer.

This may be why I felt this was my first summer. Attending year-round public school with nose-to-the-grindstone-parents, our vacations took place only on school and civic holidays, spending holy days at St. Anthony’s and the rest of vacation with family, hours away. Magazines, Pinterest, and endless questions of “do you have any plans this summer?” filled me with the idea of summer. Having a 6-year-old made it real. This summer art workshops became my “Dill”: The Real Thing.

Is fall any different? There is the idea of fall: pumpkin patches, changing leaves, hot apple cider, and Granny Smith apples for sale on Tully road. With two parents from the West coast, I learned the idea of fall while attending college in Minnesota. There, the idea of fall is strong. There, the idea of every season is strong.

As school begins and summer ends, I anticipate autumn. St. Anthony’s Parish Festival is marked on my calendar for September 30-October 1. The Four Friends Market will have a Holiday Special Market, October 7 at Dutch Hollow Farms. Does anything in this area illustrate the idea of fall better than Dutch Hollow Farms and The Fruit Barn?

The memory of breathing easily after recovering from bronchitis, riding in the backseat of a friend’s car, down the fiery-leaf-flanked Ford Parkway to Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop in Minneapolis not only taught me of the spell Minnesota casts on its residents with the beauty of fall. It became the heart of my abstract idea of fall. Thus I seek ways with each annual inauguration to make it real.

I could let it all pass. How easy it would be to be logical: it is just as hot as summer, or perhaps ten degrees cooler; most trees here do not have leaves that change color; a brief hot fall only precedes a soggy, foggy winter, if we are lucky. Or I could open the windows at night, purchase a warty pumpkin from Cipponeri’s, stock up on Spiced Apple Cider from Trader Joe’s and plan Halloween costumes with my kids. I think I will pick the latter. What will you hold onto at the end of summer to carry you into next year? What will your Real Thing be?

Fall decorating 2015

My decorating tastes are expanding, as is my collection. I hope not too much. I was eager to move onto fall decorating this year. We don’t relish summer with it’s 100 degree heat waves in this valley. I miss the autumn of the East coast and Midwest. So as soon as September hit, I brought out the browns, oranges and golds.

IMG_7529An unusable teapot from Selective Consignments, wood cuttings from my father’s almond orchard, dark brown candles on awesome vintage sticks.

IMG_7531An early pumpkin and dried lavender.


The little chipmunk, an orange fabric circle to highlight the indigo on my Currier and Ives teapot. Tea = warmth = what I dream autumn is like. But it was 100 yesterday too.

IMG_7535The first harvest from our pumpkin patch at my parents house, the bounty of which we’ll sell at our sidewalk stand in front of our house starting October 1.

IMG_7537Already celebrating, we hosted our Cultural Camaraderie movie night and watched Victor Borge in action.

IMG_7583I clipped some fountain grass, salvia, lavender and basil, giving it a home in an old glass honey bottle.


IMG_7585 IMG_7587Another trip to the consignment store will keep the squirrel under control. My daughter added more fountain grass to a vase. She’s nearly five years old and already decorating.

IMG_7589I picked up this beautiful broom. The owner of the shop tried to sell me some other “more interesting” styles, but I loved this, circular with that beautiful weaving.

IMG_7590And if fall changes, three kids and a new business were not enough. We’re changing the kitchen. From this:

IMG_7459 IMG_7461 IMG_7581to this…


IMG_7596and now this…

IMG_7598 IMG_7601 It’s a beautiful and striking black quartz, a new faucet with sprayer and stainless steel sink (single basin, I can fit pots!). I’m still selecting the tile, but am leaning towards large black glossy tiles, hopefully with some texture. We’ll see once the sample arrives.

Things will continue to change. We’ll get the tile in somehow. I’ll put alter the decor for Halloween come October, our pumpkin stand will go out. I love fall!

The Un-Thanksgiving Menu

This year, as way to have an intimate family gathering, we decided to do an Un-Thanskgiving Menu on Wednesday evening, taking a twist on the traditionals. Thursday we would be spend with relatives. This could be our chance to be fancy, gourmet, and thankful, because, well, neither of our families seem comfortable going around and saying what they’re thankful for. In my family, it’s more about the food and small talk than anything else.

The Menu

Cranberry sauce

Mashed sweet potatoes

Rotisserie duck

Brandy Alexander Pie

The Result

Well, since it had been a busy day, I plopped down in a chair with baby on the ground and my laptop on my lap. Of course, my presence was keeping the baby happy, you know? I shouted a “do you need any help?” to my husband once and he said no. See how we shatter conventional stereotypes?

From the living room I asked if he bought cranberries. Nope, only the canned kind, thinking there would not be enough time to make cranberry sauce. He offered to doctor it up and my moody, hungry tiredness made some difficult conversation around that subject. He found cranberries in the freezer and went on to make the cranberry sauce.

Lesson 1: Discuss the grocery list.

After an hour, he said “the duck is finally thawed.”

Lesson 2: Don’t by frozen duck the evening you want to cook it.

After thirty minutes he went to the garage and said he was looking for the roaster. The dusk did not fit on the rotisserie. Then my eyes opened to what was happening in the kitchen.

Lesson 3: Work together for strange last minute menus. Check in to help assess the situations because four eyes, two heads, and four hands are all better than half that amount.

I remembered where the roaster was, so up the attic he went, and brought it down. I never said we had to continue, but in his deep desire to make this fancy meal for me who has a yen for fancy things, he would not give up.

The duck was in the roaster (roast duck sounds more like it, right?). I put the finished cranberry sauce in the fridge (we did have time after all). I forgot all about the “fancy” and setting the table. It was already 8pm at this time and we usually eat by 6pm. The man made his world-famous garlic bread. Delicious!

Lesson 4: Yum, appetizers!

He brought the bread over to me on the couch (I’m even worse now because the baby is asleep and I’m still not helping).

Lesson 5: Set the table ahead of time, this will help keep me alert to the active world.

Next course (each course consisted of whatever was cooked already): mashed sweet potatoes. Our reaction to the first bite: hmm… My husband’s second reaction: it kind of grows on you.

Lesson 6: Skin sweet potatoes before cooking/mashing when making mashed sweet potatoes

Lesson 7: Don’t use too much water in the mashing process.

Lesson 8: Don’t make mashed sweet potatoes.

We still had a while for the duck to finish. What course could we do next? Dessert, of course! We stole a gingerbread turkey cookie from the platter prepared for Thanksgiving day and dished ice cream on top. No needed lessons here, it was simply good. Now that I write this I realize we forgot the dessert we had planned on. That’s just fine. We’ll save it for Gaudete Sunday.

We ate the duck with the cranberry sauce. My husband did an amazing job with his first time making duck. The cranberry sauce was thick with great flavor. When I bit into a pine needle, though, it took away from the cranberry zest.

Lesson 8: Don’t cook with cranberries you froze after using them for a centerpiece.

Use Cranberries to Make Thanksgiving Table Candles

So we learned a lot! I’m not sure what happened to me and my alertness. Conscientiousness is usually my strength. It’s absence might be tied to sleep-deprivation. We had talk about working as a team (I should stand up and help; he should ask for help or at least say yes when I ask if he needs it).

Final menu in order of appearance

Garlic Bread

Mashed sweet potatoes

Gingerbread turkey cookie with vanilla ice cream

Cranberry Sauce

Roast duck

We may do it again next year, change the menu and try again.

Lesson 8: Be thankful to go with the flow. We invited friends over and I can’t imagine how it would have gone had they been able to come!

Mental prep for the seasons

About a week ago our 7-month old started waking every 45 minutes. This happened for two nights in a row. The second night we experience two some blessed hour-and-a-half stretches. Soon after her first tooth in the top row came through. It takes a while for me to catch back up on sleep, thus that lack of creative work and creative writing. But, so as not to neglect you, here is a look back on Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating. Naturally I have been reflecting on the past as I plan what we will do in this new home, this new year.

I love Thanksgiving. I love feasts and I love setting the table for those feasts. Last year we hosted Thanksgiving which was a decision good and bad. The good? Take a look…

DSCN3041I ordered a dark blue with gold-painted table runner from West Elm after seeing it featured in Real Simple reasonably priced (thus beginning my current love affair with West Elm; I’ve purchased one thing since).

My wonderful husband spray painted pumpkins from our patch with gold, silver and bronze paint. I laid out dark blue damask stripe napkins and found some walnut branches from the clippings outside. For me that last step “made it.”

DSCN3043I used brown velvet ribbon to tie the silverware together, laid on top of the napkin and silver chargers. Half-yard pieces of fabric from Rainbow Fabrics (a local amazing store) grounded the centerpiece on the oval table. I used to love to do the formal settings with silverware all in its proper place, but with the advent of toddlers such a setting never makes it straight to dinner time.

DSCN3044The bad, or rather difficult from that Thanksgiving came with having two children under age three and being pregnant with the third, hosting not one, but two sides of the family, and having a generous family member bring a bird that was too big for the roaster. So not all things worked out. Both sides of the family are more casual than our little nucleus of a family, and did no revel in the use of china and real silver. Other than the table settings, I have more “difficult” memories than good. That’s life and learning. My secret to hosting parties now: don’t cook! It seems to go smoother that way (read: less stressful). I’m also not hosting Thanksgiving this year. Instead, in our little family we plan to have an un-Thanksgiving menu on Wednesday: rotisserie duck, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Brandy Alexander Pie. We’ll still be thankful, but with a new menu, the day before, and do the family thing on Thursday.

After Thanksgiving comes shopping (as you know from my previous post). I am Catholic. As a Catholic, the Christmas season follows Christmas with the 12 days of Christmas (Christmas day to Epiphany, celebrating when the Wise Men brought gifts to the Infant). Prior to Christmas is Advent, a time of preparation. So we prepare, but we don’t pretend it’s Christmas.

That’s all well and good, but I also grew up in the world and its difficult to hold off on certain decorating, certain music, certain food (read: candy, cookies) because it’s all so sentimental and wonderful. No snow here means the outside doesn’t get decorated into a winter wonderland, so its up to the interiors to fulfill the job.

The compromise: winter decorating.

In reality, I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins, and as I write this, I’m not sure it matters because my preferred decorations are rather neutral. Early in our marriage my husband stated he would like a blue and silver Christmas tree. I began the search. Along with an antique store angel, here is what it came to last year. We bought a $25 tree and placed it on a table with a kid-gate around it to protect the ornaments. Not sure how to solve this dilemma this year: new house, greater child mobility.

photo 2 More from last year. In my love of antiques, I added a silver Christmas tree on this side table with silver tapers.

photo 1I made wreaths for first time using Christmas tree clippings, juniper and olive branches. We (my husband) spray painted found pine cones and I made the creche the focus for the room.

photo 3

I like the effect of the bright red satin bow. This year I’ll make them again, only better because I know more, and without juniper because I hated working with it and we don’t live near a juniper tree anymore.

photo 5I did my best with that home to make an “entrance.” There were no wood doors, only sliding glass doors in this dogtrot style home. For the exterior, along with crazy-expensive-to-run Christmas lights (definitely investing LED this year), we put up a giant Charlie Brown Christmas tree. If you look carefully you can see the red ornament at the end. I suppose I did that two years ago because I recognize the tree in it from our “come-and-cut” adventure. Come and cut in the cold and rain with your infant bundled and moby-ed. I think we had more fun going to Tracy Trees the following year, run by a Christian family here in town.

IMG_3821So this year we’ll go to Tracy trees, I’ll make at least one wreath and possibly a holiday (holy day?) banner, like this, and some German glitter homes like these. I’d show you more but the children are hungry and I can’t reveal all my secrets, now can I? More to come.

Woodland Tea Party-Birthday Party

For my daughter’s fourth birthday party, a milestone in my eyes (goodbye toddlerhood?) I wanted to do something very special for this little girl. Inspired by this crafty and enchanting floral fox birthday party, I decided on a woodland tea party in my parents’ almond orchard.

IMG_5448Armed with orange balloons, pink balloons and a helium tank, the grandmothers set the stage.


Literally. My father moved the dance floor he built for our friends’ wedding two weeks past into the orchard. Brought out some rounds and folding chairs and viola! we have a setting for our darling dear. I brought out my mother’s wedding china (easier since the party was at her house), some rustic orange fabric circles for the centerpieces, and flowers I arranged from two large bouquets my mom acquired at a retreat.

IMG_5440We added little felt fox clips to the center piece, and paper cut outs with a sleeping fox made, by a good friend, at each place setting.

IMG_5444The focal point of the party was our special gift to the girl. A dollhouse!

IMG_5424Plus delicious food. On the menu: granny smith apples, Caprese salad (tomato, home-grown basil, and fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil), and a ham with Cajun mayo, pickled vegetables party platter featured in Real Simple.

IMG_5425The cake is a bittersweet chocolate cake, also featured in Real Simple, which we served with homemade pumpkin ice cream. It is decorated with one real homegrown pumpkin and assorted sugar cookies made by my mom.


We served a Citrus Lavender Sage herbal tea, another tea mix and hot spiced apple cider.

The kids had an opportunity to paint birdhouses and play bean bag toss.


IMG_5487After that everyone got balloons and wagon rides!




IMG_5623As the evening progress the white lights were the finishing touch to a perfect evening. A great thanks to all those who made this birthday vision a reality!