As Summer Fades Into Autumn

Alternatively titled: Life Lately…

For me, Autumn starts on September 1. I’m not sure when/why I’ve picked this date, but it’s just always been there. It might have something to do with school schedules (and being on the East Coast where school does not start until after Labor Day has only solidified this) or it might be because no matter where we have lived, August has always been the worst with heat/humidity/bugs. Whatever the reason, for me “Autumn” begins tomorrow. And wow am I ready for Autumn. 

This Autumn marks a time of change, most notably that both my boys will be in school all day every day. I’ll have an empty house during the day for the first time in 6 years. It seems a bit surreal to me to be honest. Definitely a little bittersweet. As ready as we all are (and believe me, we are READY), it’s still a bit sad to think that my baby-est of boys, my little mama’s boy, is off to school. Luckily, I am volunteering within the PTO and school again so he won’t be far and the chances of me seeing him throughout the year and during the school day are high. He also attended the KinderCamp prior to school getting started and he did so well, loved every minute, and it very much added to his excitement of the start of school. 

In reality, there are a lot of other changes coming down the pipeline as Summer turns to Autumn, most of which I won’t be talking about, but it just feels like such a transition period- more so than in the past. 

I started out Summer with big plans- I wanted to journal with the kids every morning, we had an idea to our days, I had plans to only be here and there for little bits, while taking most of the time to really be present with the boys. And yet, while some of that happened, a lot of it didn’t. We went on our Summer Holiday, which was great and loved every minute, but then once we came back it was a rush to get back settled again, to get self imposed deadlines down, to re create those perfect day to days that I had dreamed, to then only throw them out the window- create playdates out of nowhere, and then strive to balance all the things I wanted to accomplish. It felt very…un summer like and definitely not like previous summers. I’m not sure what was so different, maybe it’s because this Autumn will be so different, but it just felt very short, very rushed, and very…unsatisfactory. But that’s life sometimes. 

Like Summer (you would think I would have learned, but no), I have big plans for Autumn and Winter. I’ve created a sort of overview of dates and timelines (again mostly self-imposed) that I’d like to meet and I feel like I’ll actually be able to do it. The big things are continuing regular blog posts (maybe some exciting new ones- anything you’d like to see more of?), starting up the podcast, and editing my book.

How was your Summer? What big plans do you have for the changing season?

Autumn in the Adirondacks

Oh, the pure bliss of it all. Autumn in upstate New York is one that you hear talked about a lot, along with Vermont and New Hampshire (ok basically all of New England). It’s one that everyone says is absolutely incredible (actually I’d argue that people tend to exclude New York from that conversation, which is completely unfair, but that’s a post for another day), but you always wonder…”can it really be that good?”. The answer is yes, yes it can be, in fact it’s better. 

In fact, when I dreamed about what Autumn in New York would be like, I dreamed of spending a weekend in a cabin in the middle of the forest and just watching in wonder at the beauty around me. However, rentals go FAST around here, and you’ve got to plan almost a year out to get what you really want at a decent price (and I was determined NOT to do a hotel in a city for this particular dreamy weekend). My husband took over the plans and ended up booking us an RV and a campsite for the weekend in the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain area. There aren’t a lot of words that I can really give to the sheer beauty of it all, and so, while there will still be words in this post, the real star of the post will be the pictures that I took throughout the weekend. 

Now, before we go much further in this post, I’ll address the elephant in this post. Yes, we stayed in the RV in a KOA campground…and we LOVED every minute of it. My husband has been trying to sell me on the whole RV thing and while I wasn’t opposed to it, I also wasn’t jumping up and down and going out to buy one. This weekend convinced me though that an RV for the bulk of our travel is actually a really good idea. Let me briefly explain. When we travel to certain locations, we do a lot of outdoor activities. We are big outdoors people, loving to explore nature, hike through the woods, see waterfalls, and just general do everything we can within nature. When you spend all day just reveling in Mother Nature and the beauty that is around you, only to go back to a hotel in a city it can be a bit…jarring. Especially if what you are craving is an escape from “the real world”. Enter: the RV. It was brilliant and honestly, really added to our weekend. The boys loved it and, at least for this weekend, I didn’t feel like I was truly missing anything by staying in an RV instead of a hotel. It is something that, while we will be renting a few more times first, we are definitely going to be looking at investing in. I would say we do a fairly equal amount in our travels between visiting cities and escaping into nature, so this would definitely be something to have. 

Anyways, tangent over back to our post about Autumn in Upstate. We pulled in on a Friday afternoon and got all set up and unpacked at the campsite. Made up the beds, set up our little cooking and dining area and feasted on some dinner. Like I said, we stayed at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA and we really liked it. It had good amenities, very active and sweet owners (this was actually their last weekend there) and was VERY beautiful. It is a perfect spot to stay due to its location close to everything to see in the immediate region. 

Our first full day in the area we spent chasing leaves across Whiteface Mountain. Whiteface Mountain is the 5th highest mountain in New York and part of the Adirondack High Peaks. It is unique in that you are able to access the summit by car, with the Whiteface Memorial Veterans Highway. This highway was constructed as part of the New Deal public works projects and funded entirely by New York State. It winds up the mountain giving absolutely incredible views of the valley below (with several pull off points to step out of the vehicle and stare in awe), stopping just shy of the summit you are able to then walk through a tunnel and ride an elevator to the fully developed summit OR hike the stairway trail to the summit. The tunnel walks you through to the center of the mountain where an elevator whisks you to the top. We chose to take the elevator due to weather and little children (if the weather hadn’t been windy and damp, we would have probably hiked the trail up). The summit is the most incredible view of Lake Placid and the surrounding area. On a clear day you can even see the skyscrapers of Montreal on the distance. We didn’t have a clear enough view to see Canada, or even Vermont, but we were able to see down to Lake Placid and our further out surrounding area. Whiteface Mountain Summit is only open May to October (in fact the weekend we went was the last weekend), in part due to weather at the summit, but also because on the opposite side of the mountain is the Whiteface Ski Resort. The workers who work the roads and top, also work the ski resort, so they transition from one side to the other to prep for winter and the upcoming ski season.

So, like I said, the opposite side of the Veterans Highway is the Ski Resort. The Ski area is noted by the Olympic Regional Development Authority as a major ski area and is known for hosting the alpine events of the Winter Olympics as well as an Olympic Training Site and just a generally good spot to ski. There are two double black diamond trails within the ski area, as well as quite a few standard trails, and a great separate beginners’ area. Year round, you are able to ride the Cloud splitter Gondola up to the summit of Little Whiteface, which is what we did after leaving the summit of Whiteface Mountain. I will say- this is totally not necessary. In fact, I would recommend just choosing to drive the Veterans Highway and summit Whiteface Mountain. Yes, the gondola rides up to Little Mountain is INCREDIBLE, but it’s just not as good as the drive up the mountain. Just a personal opinion. 

We finished our day out at High Falls Gorge, a nature park that has been around since 1899. This nature park provides trail access to look throughout the falls of the AuSable river with bridges, clear viewing platforms and several photo spots to get close to the falls. There is also a nature trail that walks you through a protected untouched forest called Climax Forest. While the trail, river, and foliage was gorgeous, I don’t know that it was entirely worth the cost. It’s a really pretty area and maybe if we hadn’t spent time touring various waterfalls in the Finger Lakes (HERE) the month previous I would have felt differently, but this just wasn’t absolutely worth the cost. It’s one of those, I recommend, but I also wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it. It was neat I suppose.

And that wrapped up our first full day in the Lake Placid region. I’ve literally never been so in love with a trip (maybe if we had rv’d or camped that Finger Lakes trip, but we stayed in a hotel instead) and a space at a moment in time, but I just kept looking around in awe at every turn. A tear may have been shed over just the sheer beauty of it all. After the High Falls Gorge, we went back to the RV for the evening and spent our night around the fire, munching on some smores and just reveling in the area. 

On our second full day in the region, we headed into Lake Placid proper. Lake Placid, originally known as North Elba, started as a location for an iron ore mine. It started to grow in the late 19th century, starting as a place for former slaves to own land (thanks due to Gerrit Smith and John Brown) before turning in to a resort town. The name change was brought about by Melvin Dewey (of the Dewey Decimal System) who made a “Placid Park Club”. Lake Placid was incorporated in 1900 and became known as a resort spot, as well as a rest and recouperation area (especially for those suffering from tuberculosis- Saranac Lake had a sanatorium for those sick with the disease to convalesce). Before too long Lake Placid became known for alpine sports, later on going on to host the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. 

We started our morning off on the lake itself, taking a boat tour and looking at all the different “camps” and lodges that sit right on the water. It was a peaceful start, giving us a little look into some of the more “known” families that lived there at one time or another. We were also able to spot loons on the water and an eagle up in one of the pine trees. Not to mention, the leaves were just starting to wane from peak season, so all those beautiful reds/yellows/oranges were still standing amidst a sea of green and gray (from the trees that had already lost their leaves). It was a special bit of time. 

Once finished with the boat tour, we headed into downtown Lake Placid. Lake Placid is actually currently under construction…yes, the entire town is undergoing a massive overhaul. This made walking the main street a bit of a struggle, but we wandered down amongst all the shops and scenery of Mirror Lake. We did not make it to the Olympic Complex in town as it was under construction too. It was open to the public, however the reviews that we had read, it was only a fraction of the complex and so we decided to head to a different Olympic attraction from the overall complex. 

The Olympic Ski Jump Complex is one to see. You cannot accurately understand what the jumps are like, until you are standing in front of them, on top of them, riding the lift up next to them. They are MASSIVE. The current jumps are the only free-standing jumps and are listed at 90 and 120 meters tall. The 120 Meter jump is the one open to tourists, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The original jump was built into the mountain in 1920 and was known as the Interval 35 Meter. This jump was initially lifted, still within the mountain, to 50 meters in 1923. In 1927 they built the first tower to increase the jump to 60 meters. Ever few years this was increased, with a 75-meter used for the 1932 Olympics, until 1977 when the entire complex was demolished to build fresh towers for the 1980 Olympics standing at 70 & 90 Meters. The current towers date back to 1994. Another feature of the complex is the freestyle aerial training center, seen from the right of the jump towers. Athletes can train on two similar jumps and jump into a massive pool of water. 

Now, I’m terrified of heights. More specifically, I’m terrified of FALLING from high up. I do not have the personal strength to actually do this jump, just standing up at the tower, a few feet above where the ski jumpers would launch from was more than enough for me to get nervous (aka panic panic panic), but it was pretty incredible to think that people actually do jump and enjoy it. 

And that really wrapped up our weekend in Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. It was one of the most incredible trips.  I really just fell in love with this area of New York (and specifically at this particular time of year, but I’m sure of its beauty year-round) and will happily go back again. I think that we talk about New England as being such a hot spot for Autumnal Foliage, but don’t write off Upstate New York. It’s just as incredible and I would highly recommend checking it out. 

Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg – An Autumnal Weekend

When you talk about Germany in Autumn, about moving to Germany or visiting, people usually talk about Oktoberfest, seeing the leaves turn in Bavaria, watching an Almabtrieb, or the gray, foggy, rainy days. BUT there is a festival that occurs September through November (or into December) every year that is quite the show to see…the Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg, or Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival. This was the final piece of my Autumn in Germany trifecta and I was so happy that we were able to get to make it this year. 

To start with, this festival is the largest pumpkin festival in the world. It is hosted on the grounds of the Residential Palace of Ludwigsburg and boasts over 450,000 pumpkins (600 varieties). Pumpkins are used from everything to display, carving, eating, even rowing in (although due to Covid-19 this did not happen in 2020). Most of the pumpkins are grown locally in the district, however all are from within Germany. 

I don’t really have a lot of history on the festival itself, but rather sharing what made this so much cooler than just going to a pumpkin patch for a day. There are basically two things that set the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival apart, the food and the sculptures. 

Every year there is a theme set for the festival and it sets the tone for all of the pumpkin sculptures. For the year 2020, the theme was “Music”, so we saw sculptures of famous musicians (check out the Kiss tongue and Beethoven), various musical instruments, and musicians themselves playing instruments (that DJ was MASSIVE). The sculptures are constructed using pumpkins, locally sourced wood, and locally sourced straw. That was one of the things that I really admired about the festival, the idea of locally sourcing materials- it’s a great way to boost local produce and reduce waste. 

Most of the walkways are laid with wooden paths and the route to take is somewhat easily laid out. Once you walk through the entrance and the first set of gardens, which contain bred pumpkins and a few carved sculptures (don’t miss those!), you are in the main “sculpture garden”. This was where we saw most of the sculptures (although there are plenty spread throughout), various activities (except the regatta, which is held up on a higher separate end) and where a good majority of the food and shopping vendors are. You are able to not only purchase pumpkins and pumpkin related food/drinks (I’ll get into this later), but you are also able to purchase a selection of local items AND various items featuring shots of the current year sculptures. 

While the pumpkin festival is the main focus of this time at the Palace, you are able to explore the full gardens and see all the little nooks and crannies, such as the fairy-tale garden. The Fairy-Tale Garden offers an adventure all its own with its historic play spots, fairytale renderings, and boat and train rides. We had a lot of fun wandering the enchanted pathways and stopping to see all the fairytales come to life (note- these are more along the line of the actual Grimm Fairytale style, not the Disney rendition). 

As you walk through the garden you are led through to the castle (part of the Fairy-Tale Garden) and then led back towards the Large Bird garden. Everything loops back around, and you find yourself back in the main sculpture garden (if you choose to loop around). It’s a beautiful tour of the gardens and a nice way to spend the day. 

Now, the second draw of the Pumpkin Festival…all the pumpkin food items. From pumpkin seeds to pumpkin pesto to pumpkin drinks, the festival is a foodie and/or pumpkin flavor fiends dream. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin flavoring, but I was game to try whatever and came away with a couple of new things.

For lunch we got the Penne with Pumpkin Pesto and the Pumpkin Spaetzle with pumpkin and cream sauce. My husband really like the Spaetzle and I LOVED the pumpkin pesto. So much so, that I picked up a jar to take home with me. We both opted to drink the sparkling pumpkin water, which was less of a hit ( I couldn’t finish mine). Too much pumpkin flavoring in that, I’m more of a hint of pumpkin kinda gal. To take home and try I picked up a black tea as well as the sparkling Pumpkin Wine, which I heard SO MANY people talk about and knew I had to try. Will report back as to whether I enjoyed both of those. ***Update- I really enjoyed the Pumpkin Wine- will be ordering a full bottle of that***

Finally, on the way out of the festival we were able to see the largest pumpkin contest. This contest is normally open to breeders all over the world, but given the pandemic, this year only included Germany and Austria. There are several categories, but the winner this year was a pumpkin weighing 745 kilograms (1645lbs!). It’s a massive pumpkin and you are able to check it out, along with second and third and other notable entries at the front of the palace. 

On the whole, we loved our time at the Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg and I’m so glad we went. This is a must-see event that runs every year September through November (and sometimes into December weather/pumpkin/pandemic providing). Ludwigsburg also advertises another adventure farm festival at Jucker Farm to check out as well, so maybe add that to the list as well. 

Autumn in Bavaria

I’m interrupting all of the travel content for this very special post…

Ok, maybe it’s not that special, but I wanted to do a post acknowledging two things:

1) This is my 300-blog post published to A Cuppa Cosy. 300 posts. While my content has bounced all over the place, it is still crazy to think that I have written and published 300 posts in this little corner of mine. And for my 300th post I wanted to focus on something I love, something that just kind of perfectly coincided with the timing of this post and everything else and that is…

2) Autumn. Specifically, Autumn in Bavaria. 

Autumn officially begins next week, but we’ve been officially welcoming it since September 1st (as we do every year) and I think this year, given everything, there is nothing wrong with celebrating the changing season a bit early. 

I’ve lived a fair amount of places that have had beautiful Autumnal Seasons, and a couple that don’t really get an Autumn at all, but it is my personal opinion that Bavaria just takes the cake (at this time, I’m sure in the coming years that may change, but I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the incredible season here). Between the weather, the festivals, the leaves, it just creates the best of the best of Autumn. 

Let’s start with the weather.

If you know me, you know that Autumn has always been my favorite season. I’m really kind of obsessed with the two transitional seasons- Spring and Autumn, but Autumn takes the cake. I’ve loved Autumn before it became the “basic girl” thing to love. Something about the heat fading away, the days slowly going shorter, the start of the school year, the crisper air moving in, and the leaves changing colors just made me feel so alive. And I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

I’m a massive rain fan and Autumn in Bavaria has its fair share of rainy days. This isn’t necessarily the hard rains of spring and summer storms, but rather that soft, sometimes mist like, rain that just peppers the ground and bounces gently off the roofs. The overcast nature of many of the Autumn days gives the perfect backdrop for the bright red and oranges that the leaves turn throughout the months before falling to a damp ground. The air starts to slowly turn crisp with the cool crisp air settling just in time for apple and pumpkin picking. Don’t worry though, it’s not always rainy and cool, there are those brilliant sunny days peppered throughout the 3 or so months that encompass the changing season. Those sunny days are full of life and joy and somehow…always happen on festival days. It’s a time where you may have to pack up the shorts, tanks, and summer dresses, but you can still wear t-shirts and such for a little bit longer. Same for sandals and boots, you get a great chance to wear both throughout the month of September. 

Let’s briefly talk leaves. 

I mentioned the fall colors, but something about the vibrance here in Bavaria makes a difference. Maybe it’s the rolling hills and alps that are just peppered with trees. Maybe it’s the balance of the “evergreen” trees and the changing leaves. Maybe it’s the fact that the sky has just always seemed a bit bluer and clearer in Bavaria. Whatever it is, the changing leaves are absolutely incredible here. You get a real range not only in color, but in timelines as well. It takes a full month to month and a half for the full process of changing colors and falling leaves and it is EVERYWHERE. You don’t have to drive far to get just the simple beauty of the season, you can walk right down the road. You don’t need to take any random country back roads or make a special trip (although you certainly can do that) in order to get the real pretty views. And you can get everything range of colors at any times, from the lighter green, to yellow, to the fiery reds, and brick oranges, all peppered against a brilliant blue sky or overcast gray. It’s truly incredible. 

Finally, let’s talk ambiance. 

Autumn is all about getting cozy. It’s about family, friends, changing weather, and the upcoming holiday season. It’s full of celebration and nobody does celebration better than Bavaria. Autumn, at times, almost feels like, after the grueling heat and harvest filled months of summer have ended and everything can take a deep breath again. Not only can you breathe, but you can celebrate, and Germany sure knows how to celebrate. 

***Obviously celebration will look drastically different this year due to Covid-19. I haven’t seen much about how some of the festivals that we attended last year will happen or not happen this year, but I am looking to see what I can find, and, in the meantime, I have linked a couple of posts from last year.***

The season kicks off with Almatrieb, which is a festival to celebrate the cattle (and sometimes sheep too) coming down from the mountains in anticipation of the colder weather. The cows are decorated with floral crowns, given massive bells, and then paraded on their route to pasture. It’s a massive party, which you can read about HERE. Everyone knows about Oktoberfest, the biggest party in Germany (which actually occurs in late September-usually ending the first week in October). We attended Munich’s Oktoberfest last year and had a blast (you can read that post HERE), but there are also a lot of smaller versions of Munich’s AND there are a multitude of other festivals throughout Autumn. One that I went to last year was Ertedankfest (you can read about that weekend HERE), which is a celebration of the harvest, complete with dried hops decorations. There are also the obvious, plentiful, markets in every town. 

Overall, Autumn in Bavaria is the perfect combination of sunny crisp days and grey rainy days, celebration of the changing season and getting cozy in our own homes. I don’t know that I’ve experienced the perfection of Autumn until I’ve been here. Maybe it’s just the changing season, the sentimental nature of who I am, or just the love I have for Bavaria, but I have truly found my happy spot of the year. 

A Close to Home Autumnal Weekend

We have had another one of those weekends recently where we’ve done a couple different things, each important, but not enough to warrant individual blog posts (although this one is probably pushing it). I figured I would once again, consolidate into one “long weekend” post. This is a bit longer than I would have liked, so grab a cuppa something good and snuggle in for a read.

The second weekend in October we got the chance to have a long weekend together. My husband had both Friday and Monday off of work (due to Columbus Day), but we didn’t really want to do a lot of traveling. Look, traveling is tiring and at some point you’ve got to take a little rest. I’ve mentioned this previously and have a full blog post coming up talking about it, but we decided that it was really in all of our best interests to stay close to home. We had actually originally planned a relaxing weekend, curling up at home, handling some things and just chilling.

Apparently the weather decided differently for us.

When Sunday morning hit and we were supposed to see 70 degree’s, sunshine, and not a cloud in site we made a last-minute decision to take a little trip to the Nuremberg Zoo. I’ve been wanting to go as the kids love the zoo and it’s an excellent learning opportunity for them. We also love seeing the wide variety of animals, as well as the workout that comes with walking an entire zoo with two toddlers who like to be carried off and on. We booked train tickets as that is a feasible option, a shorter train ride (about an hour for us) works best with the boys and no parking/navigation worries. The zoo itself is quite large (we saw everything there was to see and ended up walking about 6 miles), with a spacious layout. I do tend to worry sometimes about zoo’s, but I found the animals to be well cared for and have more than enough room/things to do. For the most part they were quite active, which pleased the boys to no end.

We did end up stopping for lunch within the zoo and found several things. I want to interject to say that this is the first time that we’ve eaten at a European Zoo (this is only the second we’ve been to; Berlin was the first) and I was incredibly impressed to say the least. Here’s the thing, you can order “normal” food. There isn’t pizza and hotdogs, we got Schnitzel Sandwiches and Chicken Cordon Blue. The food was served on proper plates and if you wanted to order a coffee or beer? Well you could and it would be served with the proper coffee cup and beer glass. Everywhere you could sit was clean and well maintained and people bussed their own tables when they were done. There wasn’t any trash overflowing, no massive gathering or anything. It was really refreshing and honestly, we would probably take a trip back to this zoo (it’s the closest to us) and spend another day here.

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Monday morning, we did the one thing that we had planned for all along, a river “cruise” down the Donau River to Weltenburg Abbey. This was something that we’ve been wanting to do for a while, but we’ve been waiting for the weather to cool and the leaves to turn before doing it. And boy, we picked the PERFECT time to do it. The leaves were at the height of the coloring, right before they all truly start to fall off and in this area there is just enough of the year-round green to make the reds/oranges/yellows to really pop.

So, a little history first. Weltenburg Abbey was founded in 600 by two monks and is the oldest monastic settlement in Bavaria. The church was originally built in the early 1700’s but went through a period of being disbanded. King Ludwig reestablished the monastery and the abbey has been in use sine 1913. One of the neat things about this Abbey is that it has a brewery as well, Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei. It is one of the oldest monastic breweries, citing 1050 as the opening/starting date. It’s Dunkel beer has won several awards for being the best in the world, and there is a restaurant right in the Abbey courtyard where you can eat and drink the local dishes.

We took the first available cruise time, 9:30 AM. This provided us not only a relatively empty boat (seriously the second boat ride we saw come through was packed), but it afforded us the chance to see the sun peak over the hills and see the river under the soft dawn light (even though it was hours after daybreak). It was absolutely gorgeous. There are several sights to see throughout the cruise, as they talk about the history of the area. This area has ties to Napoleon and his reign, including a story about his suitcase being left behind. There are also quite a few folk lore style tales about river witches turning pretty maidens to stone, and three rock brothers fighting, then falling into the river. It is so much fun to hear about all the folklore and tales of the region and we really enjoyed that aspect. Plus, the fact that the area is gorgeous and the trip down the river was a nice smooth 40-minute boat ride.

Once we arrived at the abbey we headed in to see the museum, which contains relics from the abbey as well as a little kid’s room with hands on activities. You do have to pay for both the cruise down to the abbey and entrance to the little museum. The museum is entirely in Germany, although the very nice greeter told us you can request the movie to be played in English and they will try to accommodate. From there we headed into the church, which was easily one of the most gorgeous churches we have ever been in. It was absolutely incredible, both in overall looks and the minute details. The whole region that encompasses the abbey is able to be converted into one big hike and is absolutely gorgeous. We simply chose to hike up the smaller hill and get an overarching view into the abbey.

Since the abbey is still an active church, you are able to see the church being used by the monks at their prayer times.

IMG_0983.jpgWe then settled in for a little bite to eat and a beer a piece. I went with a lighter beer and Robert chose the Dunkel. Both were delicious. It was a really pleasant atmosphere, sitting right in the courtyard, with the sun shining and the leaves gently blowing in the breeze. Shortly after lunch we took the ferry back to Kelheim. We had one more stop still to make on this beautiful Monday.

Our final stop of the weekend was to visit Liberation Hall.

Liberation Hall was commission by King Ludwig as part of a “group” of several monuments. This particular one was intended as a memorial to victory against Napoleon. It is quite the masterpiece. On the exterior are 18 statues that are supposed to represent the various tribes of Germany (the number is also significant due to the date of the victory). The statues on the inside are the goddesses of victory holding hands for a ceremonial dance. Similarly, to Walhalla, you are able to walk around the exterior free of charge, but there is a cost to get inside. Unlike Walhalla, there is much more to the interior than meets the eyes.

By going inside you are able to not only go through the floor gallery, but you are able to go to the second gallery (same level as the statues), climb to two different “look out” points (one just below the dome, and one just below that), and then see the second “level” gallery. It was incredible and the climb to the top was definitely worth it for these views.

And that was our “close to home” weekend. Each of these places were well within a quick travel day (an hour or less) and are just beautiful spots. We would definitely re visit all three of these spots and I’d like to explore Kelheim a little more. I hope you enjoyed our weekend and seeing the sites through our eyes.

Round the Kettle Ep 17: Happy September!

Oh September, you absolute bliss of a month…

Hello, hello, hello! How are you? How did August treat you? It was quite the month wasn’t it?! I’m trying to sum up what August was like, but I just don’t think I really can. It was full of the highest of high’s and some really low lows. And honestly, it’s all in the past now. We are at the start of a new month and the possibilities are endless if we only take the steps. Ok, already getting a little hokey.

I struggle sometimes sharing the negative side of things. I have a whole post going up about this that will explain a lot, but also, once that rough time has passed, I don’t really want to think about it or talk about it. Which can be incredibly detrimental. I like to just move forward in a positive light and not focus on the bad that happened. It’s a good way to live life for the most part, except when you actually need to face what happened, so you don’t have the same struggles the next time.

Anyway, that was a fully cryptic way of starting out this Round the Kettle…

The first of September is my happy place. I usually mark it as the start of Autumn (even though Autumn doesn’t officially begin until closer to the end of the month), school is usually in session, the weather is slowly starting to cool down, and everything starts to turn cosy. Autumn is my favorite time of year and I literally start pulling for it the earliest days that I can. The first day we get the cooler, greyer, rainier days, I instantly get excited and start planning all of our Autumnal activities.

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The first of September is also “Back to Hogwarts” day, which, as a Harry Potter fan, is an important time lol.

What do you think? Are you one of those people who holds on to Summer for as long as you can, or do you jump right into Autumn as soon as you can?

September is shaping up to be fairly similar to August in that my husband will be in an out most of the month for work, but we are planning a little day or overnight trip at the start of the month (likely is currently or has happened when this post is going up) and a couple other fun things throughout the month. I’ve got what is also shaping up to be a fairly regular to busy blog posting schedule. Not quite the three posts a week that August was, but regular and a wide variety of topics.

Even though the month itself is shaping up to be similar, I am hoping that I’ll be in a bit better mindset and shape to handle everything. I think for August I just struggled with coming right off Moving House, Vacation, and then right into a super busy month and I just hadn’t gotten a chance to take a little bit and get my mind together. Ironically, I feel like this post (which has been written end of August…) is fairly all over the place and pretty indicative of my brain currently.

While August was a bit of a lower month for me, I did somehow manage to get a lot of reading done (there was no “somehow” to that, I read 99% of my time), reading a total of 11 books. Part of this was because I was doing a readathon, part of it was because my frame of mind just had me needing to read. The top books that I read were: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison, Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I’ve got quite the stack set up for September as well that I’m looking forward to. ***I am hoping to start bringing reading a little into the mix over here, nothing major as I have a whole book blog, but here and there might be nice, yes?***

Ok, so that’s me caught up. Tell me about you! How was your August? Are you September ready? Are you Autumn ready?

Round the Kettle Ep 3: The Real Deal

I feel like whenever we have a coffee with friends, we always start with “So, how’ve you been?”  Seems like a good enough place to start these new posts, right?

So, how’ve we been?

***There is a reciprocal conversing bit to these posts, so tell me in the comments below how you’ve been and we can have a conversation!***

I’m sitting here, steeping a cup of a loose-leaf tea blend that I’ve really been enjoying lately called Fireside Plum, listening to a band that I’ve recently discovered called Imaginary Future. I really like their music and the duets they do with Kina Grannis. I would describe the music as alternative/acoustic/folk/soft love ballads (yep, it really took that many genres to narrow it down). The boys are tiring themselves out with loads of wrestling and playing, I can hear the giggles coming from our living room as I type. In fact, I should probably go check on them as giggles are more often than not a sign of something in the trouble realm…

Wednesday was Halloween. Quite the event for the kids and my least favorite holiday. I like the excitement that the kids experience and watching that, so that’s the good thing about it. This year the boys were Gecko from PJ Masks (if you’re a mom, you know) and The Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. We did end up going trick or treating this year, even though the kids are still a little too young to understand the idea (Colton is kind of on the cusp though). What were you or your children for Halloween this year? Do you do trick or treating or a party for Halloween?

Saturday, we decided to venture “into the city” and hit up the Zoo. The Zoo is always a big hit with our boys (and well really with anyone) and we definitely got quite the show from the animals. It’s really fun to watch the boys get excited over seeing the animals and we just enjoyed having a nice family outing. We get the luck of being able to attend The National Zoo off of a really pretty stretch of road (or at least the scenic route to the zoo is really pretty, going through the city is a different story…) and this was probably our last trip. One of our favorite bits about this particular zoo is the Orangutan Habitat. IMG_7742They have a “rope course” across the zoo where they can travel up in the air from one enclosure to another. Similar to how they would in the wild. It has got to be one of the coolest things to watch. When was the last time you went to your local zoo? Do they have a local attraction that you really love?

In terms of us and life, we are in an endless holding circle right now it seems. There are things that need to be done for our move, planned for, but we can’t as it’s either too early (seems crazy coming up on 3ish months) or we are waiting for other companies/people. It creates its own hectic/stress feeling and has to be the worst period of time when it comes to moving. We are both just ready to be getting to the moving and traveling bit (although I’m sure when we get to that part with two young active children, we are going to wish we were at the next part).

So, to combat that endless circle feeling, we’ve been trying to get out. Get out of our house, get into nature, different activities, go adventuring. Enjoy the parks and wildlife that we have around us. We’ve got a great park at the end of our street, a backyard area that is not only beautiful, but teaming with all sorts of creatures, and just generally in a nice area for the kids.

***Also, both boys are now at an age where adventuring out without a full diaper bag, or a huge bulky stroller is totally a possibility. It’s become a much less daunting chore to get both boys ready, fed, and out the door and we aren’t in such a rush to get back to the house, to meals, to naps. It’s made a huge difference to our days and our activities. So, if you are a mom who is maybe in the 2 under 2, or just have a really young child, it will get better. That stage isn’t very long and leaving the house will feel much easier soon!***

The great thing about having young kids is they are experiencing life for the first time, this means a simple walk in the park, which works wonders for me, captivates their attention and fascinates them! The colors have been beautiful, and it’s not been too chilly.

IMG_4692Fun fact: September through December is my all-time favorite time of year. We get the beauty of the leaves turning and falling, the crisp coolness of the early morning, gorgeous sunrises poking through the trees, hitting all of the vibrant colored leaves. Then everything slowly turns chillier, barer, until that first magical snow fall. It’s just such a wonderful and magical time of year. I’ve come to realize that Autumn just feels like my soul has been embodied by everything around me.

So, tell me, how’ve you been? I’m not really sure how these Round the Kettle posts are going to shake out (they definitely won’t always be this long or this “family update-y”), I’m sure they will take their own format as we go on.

Changing Season and a Changing Wardrobe

With the changing season, the (finally) cooler temps and rainier (or just generally wetter) weather, wardrobe changes are an absolute must. I know I’m not alone in saying that I absolutely LOVE sweater weather. There is something just so perfect to me about cosying up in a comfy sweater while the crisp cool breeze tickles my cheeks. Now that the temps are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and we are getting cozier it is the perfect time to change out our wardrobes!

The transitional seasons are great times to take stock of your closet space. As we shift from tees, tank tops, and shorts to sweaters and long pants, it’s a good opportunity to clear out some of the items you haven’t really worn. I find that Autumn and Spring tend to be the perfect times as we are in an in between state. We just start pulling out the different clothing.

I don’t necessarily do a full capsule wardrobe (although I am slowly working my way over to that), but I do follow the same basic principles. Solid basic colors, with little pops here and there, a semi low amount of clothes, with the ability to mix and match everything I own.

Today, I figured I would share a little bit of my process of shifting my wardrobe from Summer and into Fall/Winter. A part of this change is due to moving, so I am getting rid of a little bit more than I normally would, but this is my standard process that I follow.

The first step to any wardrobe clear out is to…drumroll please…clear out your wardrobe. Take everything out and put it on your bed/a chair/wherever you can. I would include shoes, jackets, scarfs, handbags, anything like that. Once it is all out, there is no hiding anything; you can quite clearly see everything you have.

The second step is to start with the clothes for the season that is coming to an end. Depending on how you store those (back of the closet or in bins) you will want to go through each piece of clothing, each shoe, jacket, etc, and determine if you actually wore them, if they fit well, made you feel good, and if they would hold up for another season. If the answer to all of those questions is yes, then into storage they go. You have to determine what to do if any of those answers are No. You have to determine where the line is at. If I answer No to any of the questions, I will typically just get rid of it.

The third step is to go through the clothes for the upcoming season. Follow the same steps for the outgoing season and make a list of any items that you may need to get. I usually have to stock up on little tanks or items to wear under cardigans or sweaters. Occassionally I will need to purchase a new sweater or new jacket as I wear through some items.

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I don’t immediately run to the shops once I have sorted my wardrobe either. I try to give it a couple weeks after sorting just to make sure of what I need and then, the shops have also put out a good amount of their Autumnal clothes, so if anything else sparks my attention I can see it then. Depending on the item will depend on where I head to shop.

So, that is how I prepare my wardrobe for the Autumn and Winter months! I like to be able to see all of my options, right in front of me, for that season. I don’t like having all of my clothes in the closet as it gets too packed and muddled.  Do you do anything? What do you do?

What I Wore September 2018

Good morning! I said a while back that I wanted to bring a little fashion to my little corner of the world wide web and I think I have found a couple ways to do that. I am going to be doing a What I wore posting *hopefully* once a month and then doing a “favorites of the season” type of post as the seasons change. I am by no means a fashion icon, or someone who even remotely knows what she is doing. I am just a mom trying to have more than just a “throw whatever I can” on style.

So, this first post is a What I Wore for the Week post. Below you’ll find photos of every outift I’ve worn 2 weeks ago (the timeline won’t be so long next time. It was hit and miss for this month).  I hope that you enjoy!

IMG_1069Monday was all about comfy/sporty as we headed out on a little shopping trip. I was surprised by this top as I am not really a horizontal stripes person and it was a shirt that just hit at the top of my jeans. I paired it with gently distressed skinnies and a pair of grey Sperry’s. All in all I really loved it!

Top: The Loft

Jeans: Wallflower Jeans

Shoes: Sperry

IMG_1093Tuesday was a little bit more Autumnal with more rain and a little bit cooler temps. I had an early morning appointment in an even cooler office, so I decided to dress up my jeans a smidge with a sweater and wedges. This is easily one of my favorite year round styles, and a staple look in my Autumn Wardrobe.

Top: Target (from a few years back)

Jeans: Wallflower Jeans

Shoes: Not sure?

IMG_6247Wednesday was what I refer to as my “office casual”. I work part time from home, and while that may mean that I don’t have to dress full office attire everyday, I do like to put myself together everyday and then dress office attire once or twice a week. I’ve gone on and on about how clothing makes a difference, so I won’t elaborate on that here, but needless to say I really like this type of office look.

Top: Chico’s

Skirt: Not Sure?

Shoes: Target (a few years back)

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Thursday features one of my new all time favorite tops. This plain white (almost just off white actually) top features a small low back, and bow detail cut outs on the arms. It is one of those simple, but delicate and elegant tops that can be paired with anything. The perfect go to to dress up any outfit.

Top: White House Black Market

Jeans: Wallflower Jeans

Shoes: Christian Siriano

IMG_6380Friday was, no surprise, casual Friday. You could argue that everyday for me is casual, but on Fridays I really just try to be more comfy and casual, preferring tee’s and mules to anything else. There is little thought put into these outfits, more so just what can I wear to end the work week on a high note.

Top: Target

Jeans: Wallflower Jeans

Shoes: JC

IMG_6436Saturday’s are family days for us. They are the days that we either explore, play, hike, whatever, as a family. We try to put everything aside and focus on some time together. This particular weekend we didn’t really do much, just lounged around at home and my outfit really reflects that. This top has long been a favorite since I got it a few years back and comes out when the weather starts to cool.

Top: I don’t actually remember…Ross or TJ Maxx I think

Bottom: Levi Jeans

Shoes: Ugg Slippers

IMG_1440Finally, Sunday’s are prep days for me. I run any errands, meal plan, get groceries, prep the weeks schedule and to do list. One of my favorite colors to bring out as Autumn starts to hit is this maroon shade. I just feel it is really Autumnal and this shade, along with the Orange just really make me feel Cosy

Top: Shirt is H&M, Jacket is Loft

Bottom: Wallflower Jeans

Shoes: Target

So that is What I Wore! I hope that you enjoyed this short look into my wardrobe and I look forward to doing more of these types of posts soon!

The Autumn Tag

Hello everyone! I hope that your week has gotten off to a good start and that it hasn’t been too much of a Monday! While brainstorming (and wasting time on youtube) I ran across this tag on Kalyn Nicholson’s youtube channel and thought that it would be perfect to do! It’s a good way to give you a little bit more tidbits about me that you may not know. I should say, I love and am obsessed with Autumn. It is easily my favorite time of year and I cannot get enough! I am all about being cozy and this is the time of year for that. You can watch her video and answers HERE. Without further ado, into the tag we go…

**Before I begin…grab a cup of whatever you want because this is going to be a long one…got what you want to drink? Ok, now onto the tag…

1.) Favorite Thing about Fall: Gosh, a tough first question! I have to say I love feeling the change that comes. Once the weather starts to cool down and when I head outside in the morning, I can just feel the change that is coming. The cooler days and even cooler nights. Curling up with my husband, our son, and a book under a blanket. It’s just the knowing that things are going to get cozier. I love it.

*That was probably a really crazy long ununderstandable (is that even a word) explanation of how I feel. I’m not very good at articulating the feeling I get with Autumn, but I absolutely loooooove it. I’m such an Autumn person.

2.) Favorite Fall/Halloween Movies: I love Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus. Those are the two big Halloween movies that I enjoy, although I like the 13 Nights of Halloween on Freeform. The other movies that I watch continuously during fall are the Harry Potter moves (although those are year round movies realistically).

3.) Fashion Trend You’re Loving For Fall? I have a hard time keeping up with up to date fashion that looks good on me. I try more to dress with what is going to look good on me and then look at what are the more fall colors that fit into my wardrobe. I love the deep hues of Fall. So basically, not favorite trend, but loving the colors that are big this season.

4.) Favorite Fall Drink? Not Pumpkin. I’m not a big pumpkin fan at all. I’m a big tea drinker year round, so that is still my go to drink, but for fall I like to have a more “chai” or spice based black tea. I will treat myself to Starbucks Latte’s however as the weather turns cooler.

5.) What is the Fall Weather like Where You Live? This is my first Autumn here where we are. So far its cool in the morning and evenings, but still somewhat warm during the day (long sleeves only, no sweater or jacket needed during the day). The leaves are turning and falling as well!

6.) Apple Picking or Hayride? Uh…both 🙂 I love to do both and can’t wait till Little man can actually get into it!

7.) Rain of Fog? Uh…both again? I think honestly they go hand in hand a lot of the time. I love when I wake up in the morning and open the blinds and there is the fog right off our deck and as the fog clears, rain starts to fall. It’s like heaven for me.

8.) Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown? Hocus Pocus all the way! In fact, we are coming up on the time for me to watch it in the next couple of days.

9.) Corn Maze of Haunted House? Yea, I’m not a fan of either. I don’t like things jumping out at me, so Haunted Houses can be a bit difficult. I also am not sure about a Corn Maze. So yea, neither.

10.) Halloween or Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving. I highly prefer Thanksgiving over Halloween. I like Halloween, but it’s not really my favorite holiday. I don’t get over excited about it.

11.) Coats or Oversized Sweaters? Is this even a question…oversized sweaters all the way. Much much cozier.   

12.) Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie? Again, neither really. I’m not a big pie eater and I honestly have one piece of pumpkin pie a year (on Thanksgiving) and I prefer to just eat the apples for apple pie after they’ve been coated with sugar and cinnamon. HAHA

13.) Cool Crisp Mornings or Cozy Evenings? Another hard question! I really like both, but to pick one, I prefer Cozy Evenings. It’s just…me 🙂 I love to be able to snuggle up under a blanket and relax with a fire going. I like the idea of a cool crisp morning because it helps you wake up and feel like a “fresh” start to the day, but the cozy evening is really where I would love to be.

14.) Favorite Fall Candle? Ok, from Bath & Body Works I love the Autumn Candle and from Yankee Candle I like the Autumn In The Park, November Rain, and Autumn Bouquet. I don’t have just one favorite when it comes to candles…ever.

15.) Favorite Thing To Do In The Fall? So many I can’t even say…if you haven’t guessed by now I just love to be cozy, so my favorite activity is to get into some sweatpants, a sweater and curl up under a blanket with a book, some soft music or movie in the background and just relax.

So, that is it! Did you make it to the end? I want to know what your answers are! Let me know and I tag anyone who has read this post to do the Autumn Tag!