An October Afternoon at Braeutigum Orchards

Yesterday, the Fab Five and I headed out to Braeutigum Orchards to pick our pumpkin for the year. It was a beautiful day to be out…clear, and fairly cool, and lots to see:

We picked two pumpkins this year…a really cool pink and green one seen below:

And a beautiful yellow (yes, yellow!) pumpkin that I just couldn’t leave behind (I couldn’t leave the apple cider or the apple cider donuts behind, either!):

This is the third year in a row we’ve visited the pumpkin patch at Braeutigum Orchards, and I’m so glad we decided to start going there regularly, because it’s a lovely and friendly place!

Going to the Dogs

Remember how much fun “Cakeway to the West” was?!? I loved the public art scavenger hunt that celebrated the 250th birthday of St. Louis. You can imagine my excitement, then, when earlier this year, I heard that St. Charles, MO, home of many of our family’s favorite memories, was going to be celebrating their 250th birthday in a similar fashion, with 3-foot-tall sculptures of Lewis and Clark’s dog, Seaman, displayed around their town! When we were in St. Charles for Legends and Lanterns over the weekend, we found several of the dogs:

My favorite was the one at the Embassy Suites and St. Charles Convention Center, and it wasn’t because it was the location of my second place win in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch apple dessert contest, but because it had an American highway motif:

I don’t know if we’ll have the opportunity to see more of these sculptures before the year is over, but I’m really happy we visited the ones that we did!

Legends and Lanterns: The Fourth Year

Yesterday was one of our most anticipated family outings of the year…our trip to St. Charles, MO, for the fourth annual Legends and Lanterns event!

As always, the characters were a huge draw. Some were the same, but there were a few new faces/characters, as well (we really enjoyed the Druid Priest and Imhotep, and the new version of Ichabod Crane really nailed the nervous persona of his namesake!).

And Scarecrow Glen is always fun…my favorite was Vincent Van ScareGogh!

Historic St. Charles really gets the “spirit” of the season, from the festival adornments to the various shops’ decorations:

The girls, especially, love taking pictures in special locations or with special characters…and so do I!

Another new element this year involved the event books. Instead of handing out stickers, each character had a stamp. This had some obvious logistical benefits, and also had an added perk of some characters having specific ideas of where their stamp should or shouldn’t be placed in the book, which added to their eccentric personalities:

Every trip we take to St. Charles is fun and memorable, and as my children get older, and I begin to glimpse a future where they strike out on their own, I have a new appreciation for these special family moments we have shared, and memories that we have made!

The Stanley Cup

I have to admit, I was surprised by my own reaction to seeing (and touching) the Stanley Cup. I was excited about it, and thought it would be fun, but as we got closer to the front of the line, my heart started racing and my knees started shaking! And even though I can be something of a germaphobe, I actually kissed the Stanley Cup!!! It was an incredible experience and something I’ll remember forever!

Fall’s Bounty

I love everything about fall (well, except football!). The cooler temperatures, the changing leaves, the anticipation as my favorite holidays approach…but I think my very favorite thing about fall is the food. I unabashedly love all things pumpkin spice. Cereal, desserts, coffee…I will buy and eat/drink it all. Plus my other favorite flavors of fall…apple, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and…Frankenberry? Fall’s many and bounteous foods are something I look forward to with excitement every year!

Garden Party Lights

Last week, we finally had time on a pleasant evening to visit Garden Party Lights at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This is a new event that re-used some of the elements from last year’s Flora Borealis, and added in some new things, as well, and we really enjoyed it!

I think my favorite part of the event was watching the different projections on Tower Grove House. It is the perfect backdrop, and the displays were so vibrant and beautiful!

I love the evening events at the Missouri Botanical Garden, because they allow me to see one of my favorite St. Louis locations in a, um, whole new light!

A Markel Family Oktoberfest

Yesterday we celebrated Oktoberfest! This is something we do most years, but not always on the same date, and it definitely doesn’t always look the same (some years, we go pumpkin picking on the day of our Oktoberfest celebration, but it’s still a little too early in the fall for that). Here’s a look at this year’s festivities.

We started the day with a special (but not specifically German), fall-themed breakfast:

We made pretzels from scratch, which is always fun, and they went perfectly with the German fondue I prepared for lunch. We also had pickles and mini bratwurst for dipping (or just for eating, because the boys aren’t big fans of fondue), plus a delicious cheese and artichoke strudel I found at Aldi:

For dinner, I made schnitzel (also from Aldi…they’re the best frozen schnitzel I’ve ever had, probably because they have saltines in the breading), J├Ąger sauce, spaetzle, red cabbage, and sauerkraut:

And for dessert, our favorite German cake…Black Forest cherry torte:

We spent the day watching The Sound of Music (I know, it’s set in Austria, but Oktoberfest is a chance to celebrate part of our family’s heritage, and my grandfather was from Austria, so I think it works), and every episode of Rick Steves’ Europe set in Germany that we have. We also played Chrono-Trek, which really has nothing to do with Oktoberfest, but is our current favorite game, and so much fun to play. It was a great day!

Prost!

The English Woodland Garden–September, Part Two

Yes, I already took a photo of the English Woodland Garden this month. But A.) I wasn’t really happy with it; and 2.) We had a rare evening walk around the Missouri Botanical Garden tonight, so of course I had to get an updated (and much-improved) shot:

Sometimes, you just need a do-over!

Sunrise, Sunset

Recently, I’ve really been enjoying taking sunset photos in our neighborhood, especially since we have a pond that makes the perfect sunset, well, setting, if you will. I also caught a beautiful sunrise in the opposite direction this week…there is so much beauty all around us!

The Return of Choir

The children are always excited about the first Sunday they get to sing after a long summer break, and yesterday was that Sunday! This year we still have only two choristers in the children’s choir (Chickadee isn’t quite ready for the kind of commitment), but both Moose and Ladybug were excited to be back, and it was nice to get a picture of the two of them wearing their new medals in the renovated sanctuary for the first time:

I recorded one of their pieces, and it was an excellent choice, because not only do you get hear the new organ playing along with the choir singing, you also get to hear the choristers playing handbells!

It’s a small group this year (only five members), but if the first Sunday was any indication, it’s still going to be a great year of music!