Autumn Bucket List

Fall Bucket List

It seems like just yesterday I was posting my Summer Bucket List for this year, and yet here we are a little ways into autumn and I’m back with my Fall Bucket List. I have had so many posts in mind for you, but things have been busy–especially with our now 8 month old girl (yeah, what!? where does the time go?)–and I just haven’t gotten to them yet. Hopefully today’s effort is a sign of getting back on track!
fall-2016-bucket-listI’ve already gotten started on some of the things on this year’s list. If you follow me at all on Instagram, you may have seen that we had an awesome little trip to Traverse City this past weekend, and that we’ve also done some apple picking. I’ve already made my tried and true apple butter as well, but I think I’ll be making another batch soon (I’d like to try and make a new and improved version of this apple butter roll cake, as well as some apple butter cinnamon rolls!). As for other fall treats, I’ve been longing to eat a caramel apple, but in the meantime I’ve had way too many handfuls of candy corn and peanuts!

I’m looking forward to crossing more things of this year’s list, and would love to hear about some of the fun things you’ve got planned! Leave a comment below with some of your top fall to-do’s!

xx Caitlyn

 

 

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Autumn Bucket List

Autumn Bucket List recap

It seems like the end of December is a little late to be talking about an Autumn Bucket List, but when you think about it, winter technically just started a little over a week ago. If you add the fact that weather in Tokyo still¬†feels like fall, updating you on fall happenings really shouldn’t be that strange at all! So, without further adieu, let’s talk about my 2015 Autumn Bucket List! #noregrets ūüėČ

  1. Try kirigami– Kirigami, the art of folding and cutting, can really make some neat projects. I was a lot busier than I expected over the past few months, but I did manage to do this quick kirigami pattern out of a 100 yen store kirigami book.
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  2. Go to Studio Ghibli- Once again, we were unable to get tickets for Ghibli in the fall. On the bright side, we were able to get tickets for winter, and we ended up going on Christmas Day! We were a little surprised that after all the hype and difficulty getting tickets the museum wasn’t bigger. We also couldn’t believe there is no English at all throughout the museum (and even the English brochure didn’t offer any information other than rules), but we still had a nice time. I really enjoyed the Christmas decorations at the museum, and also walking in the surrounding area (Kichijoji).
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  3. Start sewing projects for baby– I started working on this cute sewing kit purchased from etsy.
    hedgehog cross stitchI used to lack the patience for sewing, but I feel like as long as there is an interesting podcast or video going in the background, I really enjoy sewing. I definitely have a renewed appreciation for all the beautiful sewing work my mother has created–especially after realizing it can take hours to complete only 10 rows or so of stitching!
  4. Go on a picnic– Chad and I had a picnic with our students, and also had “mini” picnics a couple of times (like when we shared those nice pastries at the Rikugien Gardens).
  5. Go on a mini trip & view autumn leaves– in October we went to Kyoto and rode the Sagano Romantic Train. We also went on the Hozugawa River Boat Ride before biking a bit around Arashiyama.The leaves weren’t changing too much yet, but we were able to do lots of autumn leaf viewing after that trip.
    IMG_3360¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† ¬†¬† We met an oni on the Sugamo Romantic Train…!
    IMG_3346               One of over 1200 statues at Otagi Nenbutsuji in Arashiyama
  6. Make a birdy mobile– I totally didn’t get a chance to make this, but here is what I had in mind:
    birdy mobile via pinterest
  7. Go to Mt. Takao– I was super proud that at 29 weeks I was able to hike all the way to the top of Mt. Takao!
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  8. Make Halloween Needle Felts– I made two, and blogged about the projects here.
  9. Holiday/Maternity Leave Planning– I definitely worked on this part of my list throughout the fall, especially in December! With the holidays I did all of the expected: had fun finding special gifts, wrapping presents, preparing yummy food… And for maternity leave, I’ve been trying to do yoga and/or squats every day, to go for a daily walk, and to do part or all of one task I’ve got listed on my To-Do List (for example, washing new baby clothes or organizing a closet to prepare things for sending home). Busy, busy!
  10. Get necessary items ready for baby– We still have a few things to get ready for baby’s arrival, but we have been very lucky to have friends and family helping out with a lot of the basic necessities. We have been super minimal about purchases and requests as 1) we’ve heard that new parents often have WAY more than they need, 2) if we do need something we don’t have, we can always pick up those essentials as we go, and 3) we aren’t planning on staying in Japan for very long after baby is born so we don’t want to accumulate too much.
    IMG_4072Thirty five and a half weeks pregnant at The Tokyo New National Theater to see The Nutcracker

I thought about making my first ever winter bucket list for this year, but aside from going to The Nutcracker ballet (which we did a couple days before Christmas, by the way!), my primary goal for this winter is to meet our little girl and settle into being a mommy! I think that will be more than enough to keep me busy.

What are some things you did over the fall, and what have you got planned for the winter?

xx Caitlyn

Autumn Bucket List

Autumn Bucket List

Happy Tuesday everyone! I had a super busy weekend in Kansai, which included a lovely Saturday in Kyoto and a baby shower in the Osaka area on Sunday (you can see a few pictures on instagram). We spent yesterday back in Tokyo, and although I was bummed to come back at first, it was a good thing I got some rest as I’m feeling kind of crummy today. One the bright side, tomorrow is my next doctor appointment, so I’ll get to see our sweet baby again! And speaking of baby, some of my Fall Bucket List this year is all about preparation for when she joins us this January.
Fall Bucket ListYou might notice this year’s list is a bit shorter than years past, but that’s mainly because in the past I baked a lot (still no oven in our apartment *cries*), went to events in Michigan (like the Detroit Beer Festival), or did Michigan-related outdoors things (like apple picking!). Also, some of this year’s list will actually take a lot more time, such as planning for the holidays and maternity leave! Should be fun working through this year’s autumn list.

What do you have going this fall?
xx Caitlyn

Autumn Bucket List · Party

Autumn Bucket List: Hobo Stew Party

Every fall, my grandparents host a Hobo Stew Party at their lovely home up north. If you don’t know what a Hobo Stew Party is, you’re about to be introduced to a simple, fun gathering in which everyone participates in the main event: the stew!IMG_1173This year’s party took place a couple of weeks ago, and the main idea (as always!) was this: each person attending the party brought their own additions to add to the stew, and after the flavors had a chance to meld together and everything had been cooked through, it was time to eat!IMG_1176Chad and I brought tomatoes from our garden, kidney beans, and a light dessert. Yum!IMG_1172Above is the dessert I made: Mini Santa Maria’s (little cream puffs with shortbread bottoms). They turned out a little eggier than I would have liked, but they looked pretty at the very least!IMG_1195¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I love this picture of my brother and Ariel at the party.

IMG_1180After eating, a walk was definitely in order, and it was a gorgeous fall day. IMG_1185IMG_1179I finally got to cross blowing dandelion seeds off my list ūüôā
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We had a really nice time at the Hobo Stew Party. What is your favorite dish or addition to bring to a party?

xx Caitlyn

 

Autumn Bucket List

Autumn 2014 Bucket List

I can’t believe fall is already here. Time is passing so quickly that I’ve already gotten a start on my autumn bucket list. I am really looking forward to sharing some of the items I’ve been ticking off the list with you, but first: the list!
Autumn Bucket List1. Go apple picking
2. Make monte cristos
3. Go to Crane’s in the City for lunch
4. Make amazing apple pie
5. Make apple rose tartlets
6. Make sweet potato bread
7. Make apple butter
8. Make an apple roll cake
9. Make acorn crafts
10. Carve pumpkins
11. Have a ramen party
12. Have a wine & cheese night
13. Have a chocolate tasting party
14. Eat caramel apples
15. Make homemade ice cream
16. Have an Oktoberfest party
17. Go to the Detroit Beer Festival
18. Go to Traverse City & Sleeping Bear Dunes
19. Make name silhouette art
20. Thirty Days of Zentangle
21. Writing challenges 1/week
22. Restart book club
23. Try Ethiopian food
24. Catch up on art journaling
25. Get officially certified as a coffee master
26. Make Jack-O-Lantern tartlets
27. Hobo Stew Party
28. Dandelion blowing
30. Make a fairy garden
31. Go mushroom hunting
What’s on your bucket list for the fall?
Friday Five

Friday Five: Apples

Guest Author: Ariel Knapp

I’ve always wanted to go apple picking. I hear about Crane’s in Fennville and I’m filled with envy over all the people who go there to pick apples, eat delicious baked goods, and wash it all down with apple cider. I would make apple picking more of a priority except every year I can get as many apples as I want for free. And they come to me. There is a very wonderful woman who brings big bucketsful of apples to me and my coworkers every year. She picks apples, way more than she can use, and we reap the benefits of her generosity. It’s a pretty sweet deal. But what do you do when you have an almost unlimited supply of apples? Sure, you can make apple pie after apple pie, but what happens when apple pie loses it’s appeal? You scour the web (or just Pinterest) for new apple recipes. So, without further ado, here’s five apple recipes you might want to take a look at if you’re like me and have more apples than you¬†know what to do with.

1. Apple Fritter Bread courtesy of the Peanut Butter Fingers blog
Apple fritters are my favorite donut and yet I’ve never made this bread. I might have to make it a priority this year.

apple fritter loaf

2. Apple Pie Biscuits via Joy the Baker
I made these the other day. I’ll admit, I didn’t roll out the dough enough so the biscuits were pretty doughy. Not really a success, but the filling was amazing! I’m definitely going to try making these again very soon.

apple pie biscuits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls by Sally’s Baking Addiction
I love Sally’s Baking Addiction. Every time I google a recipe Sally’s already made it and then took it to the next level. I made a deal with my boss at the library that I would¬†bring in¬†these cinnamon rolls if he bought Sally’s new cookbook. The cinnamon rolls were a hit and now anyone can come check out the¬†Sally’s Baking Addiction cookbook when they come to the library.

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Applesauce
Making applesauce from scratch is super easy. All you have to do is chop up apples and throw them in a pan with a little water, white or brown sugar, and some cinnamon, then you cook it down until it’s the consistency you want. Thick, thin, smooth or chunky applesauce, the results are totally up to you and your preferences. And there’s nothing like the smell of homemade applesauce simmering on the stove on a crisp fall day.

5. Apple Chips
Here’s a healthier treat to make with apples. Dried fruit is awesome. It’s such an easy snack that doesn’t have any added sugar so you don’t have to feel bad about eating a lot at one time, which is what I would do/have done.

baked apple chips Baked Apple Chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you like to make with apples? Do you have a favorite recipe that you make over and over?

Summer Bucket List

Writing Practice

This morning as a needed distraction, I finally got around to working on one of the writing prompts from 642 Things to Write About. On my summer bucket list, I had hoped to try out at least one writing prompt a week, and today’s attempt was a good reminder that I need to stay in practice! (Perhaps I should add that goal to my Autumn Bucket list this year!) It has been quite a while since I’ve done any creative writing, and I definitely need some brushing up. However, without further adieu, I’ve decided to share what I came up with today here with you.

The Prompt: A woman thinks she might be living next door to her grandson

Beautiful autumn window
source

My Attempt:

    There were six squares in each window pane, and each one could form the perfect picture frame for a scene outside. Eleanor thought about this, sipping her morning coffee and adjusting her viewpoint for each square as though she were looking through the lens of a camera. That little blue house across the road looks just right at this angle, she thought. The simple, cottage-style house fills the right two-thirds of the frame, and leaves the left third of the frame open for the green bushes on the bottom and the arching, yellowing leaves peaking in at the top. Yes, Eleanor nodded to herself, composing a picture in thirds often makes it more interesting.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Eleanor slurped her coffee and¬†considered the flavor filling her palate. This morning’s coffee was an autumn blend, matching the fall shadows blanketing the trees outside, the brisk air, and the calm feeling that came over Eleanor every year after summer had passed.¬†With the autumn coffee lingering on her tongue, Eleanor¬†took a bite of a homemade coffee cake scone, closing her eyes and trying to recognize individual flavors: cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice.
¬†¬†¬†¬† She had so much time to bake these days. It was something she always loved. She sometimes donated her baked goods¬†to church-related organizations,¬†brushing people off when they tried to approach her and ask her about her delicious recipes. Her nose would crinkle up and she’d hobble away, waving her hands as though she were shooing a fly. It had always been difficult for her to accept compliments, though she secretly loved the attention she got for the things she made. She remembered her grandchildren going wild over her jam tarts when they were little. Each tart would be¬†shaped differently, and Eleanor used several jams as fillings. Apricot, raspberry, blueberry, kiwi…the tarts filled the table like¬†a rainbow.
     Eleanor smiled as she remembered their tiny little fingers reaching for one tart after another. She lightly touched the smooth surface of the same table the tarts had been spread across years ago, tracing the knots of the wood in several places before reaching for her coffee cup and gazing back outside.
     Those are new neighbors, Eleanor observed, looking out a different window pane. A young man and woman carried cardboard boxes from a blue station wagon into the quaint red brick house. The woman wore a simple white cotton tee-shirt dress with navy blue leggings and flats, her long strawberry blond hair pulled into a loose pony tail. The man wore jeans, loafers and a three-quarter sleeve plaid button-up shirt. His dark brown hair was a little long and messy, his smile wide and happy.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Eleanor shifted her focus to the boxes. The last time she moved must have been thirty years ago or more. What had she brought with her, from place to place? Books, bowls, blankets. Cats, cups, and candles. Usual things, she supposed. Eleanor wondered what would fill the red brick house across the street–what would be neatly unpacked from all of the boxes as the couple made their house a home. She stood from her chair and held onto the wall for support as she made her way closer to the window that framed the young couple moving in.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Pushing a stray strand of silver hair from her face, Eleanor squinted outside, trying to make out the faces of the couple. She started, suddenly, eyebrows raised with a look of disbelief. Could that be… No, no. Eleanor had thought she’d seen her grandchildren all over town for years, realizing she was always wrong, always creating an embarrassing scene. It had been¬†so long¬†since she had¬†seen any of them. That’s how life worked, she supposed: over time, people spread out all¬†over the globe and got caught up in life, forgetting¬†about grandmothers. There just isn’t always time for grandmothers.
¬†¬†¬†¬† This¬†man across the street looked so much like Noah, her very first grandchild. As she watched him, Eleanor felt a sense¬†hope and comfort in his smile, something familiar in his expression and in¬†his eyes. How would Noah have ended up here, in a house directly adjacent to his old, lonely grandmother? And furthermore, why wouldn’t he have told her, or come to visit?¬†Surely if Noah were to be that close in proximity to his grandmother, it couldn’t inconvenience him much to¬†stop by for¬†coffee. She played the scene out in her mind, imagining¬†Noah giving her a great big hug,¬†saying it’s been so long and does she ever make those tarts anymore?
¬†¬†¬†¬† Eleanor shook her head and pulled herself along the table back to her coffee. She slid her cup and her plate over to the opposite side, sitting down in front of it with a new view out the windows. It couldn’t be Noah. Eleanor¬†turned her attention to her scone, pushing crumbs onto her fingertips and bringing them to her lips.¬†She squinted up at the blue, cloudless sky out the window. Six new squares to contemplate now,¬†Eleanor thought, and she took another sip of coffee and tried to push Noah from her mind.