Hiking in Yellow Springs

Happy day-after-Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope you all had a great holiday?  Ours was pretty low-key and involved some tasty food, including a turkey breast that Antoine smoked (delicious!) and my first ever attempt at key lime pie (I used this recipe and it turned out really well).  While Antoine and I usually get into the Black Friday madness, this year we didn't really see much that caught our eye...though we might have to run to Petsmart/Petco to get the kids some Xmas toys (shhh! don't tell them).  Instead we went to a practically deserted Kroger this morning to get the fixings for one of Antoine's scrumptious breakfasts and as I'm typing this he's in the kitchen working his breakfast-magic.  I'm pretty lucky, aren't I?!

Anyway, I thought I'd share the rest of the photos I took from our day in Yellow Springs.  After pumpkin picking and some food to fuel us, we all packed up in our cars (with many pumpkins in our trunks) and headed a couple miles down the road to John Bryan State Park.  Now usually when we go to Yellow Spring we always go hiking in Glen Helen Nature Preserve, but since it had been years and years since I had last been to John Bryan (and Antoine and Aaron had never been), I suggested we go there...
We really had no idea where we were going and just decided to stop when we spotted the gorge trail.
An ordinary occurrence: Gatsby and Aaron going running off together, Amanda and Antoine walk at a normal pace while Cheese smells EVERYTHING (though you can even see him here because he's busy smelling), and I get distracted taking pictures and get left behind.
So regal!
As we were walking someone in the group (all I know is it wasn't me because I was too engrossed in talking photos of fungus) spotted small trails leading to the remnants of an old building.
Another less pristine wall/building.
This crazy tree's roots had grown through this rock...the picture definitely doesn't capture how cool it was in person!
"Come on Dad, it's time to explore!" - Gatsby
"Umm, will someone move this large branch out of my way?!"

All in all, it was a pretty great day!  I mean, how could it not be...pumpkins, friends, ice cream, cute dogs, and hiking.  That's just a recipe for Fall awesomeness!


Pumpkin Picking '14

Where did Fall go?  One second the leaves are changing and the next it's snowing and in the 30s!  I'm not a winter-hater by any means, but I Fall is by far my favorite season and it also seems to be the shortest one!  But let's talk about traditions, which seems appropriate since it's nearly Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before you know it.

By far my favorite Fall tradition is pumpkin picking!  It started when my best friend, Amanda, and I were roommates in college.  We'd pack some bacon sandwiches and spend the day in Yellow Springs picking pumpkins, hiking, and eating ice cream.  When Antoine and I started dating he was more than happy to carry on the tradition with me, and I breathed a giant sigh of relief that pumpkin picking didn't fall to the wayside, because it makes me so freaking happy!  This year we planned to go to our usual spot, Peifer Orchards in Yellow Spring but as a bonus Amanda and Aaron (and their dog Gatsby) decided to trek down from Cleveland to meet up with us!  We arrived at Peifer a little before Amanda and Aaron (not surprising since it's much closer to YS from Cincinnati than from Cleveland!), but decided to make our way to the field since pumpkin picking for me tends to be a very intense and time-involved process.  The lovely people at Peifer warned us before we headed out to the field that they had had a lot of rain the previous week which flooded their fields, so there might not be any pumpkins to pick.  Still we remained optimistic that there'd be some pumpkins to pick.
 "Come on, guys!  To the pumpkins!"

Unfortunately, only a couple pumpkins survived the flooding of the field and I only found one pumpkin to pick...

Still, we wandered around for a while.  I snapped some photos while Cheese smelled everything imaginable!

 And then I spotted a couple ducks with a bunch of little ducklings trailing behind them...
 How cute is that?!
 Basset butt.

Next to Peifer there is a greenhouse/farm with a variety of different animals.  Shortly after we arrived at the fields we saw this guy.  He really wanted to be Cheese's friend...Cheese wasn't so sure he wanted to be his though! 
 Cheese would get close and then when the horse bent down to sniff his head Cheese would hurry off!

We were definitely bummed that there were no pumpkins to pick, but after Antoine did a little calling around he found that Young's Dairy (which was on our list of activities for the day anyway), just a half mile down the road, also had pumpkin picking.  So we told Amanda and Aaron there was a change of plans and to meet us at Young's.  As we were leaving the fields I spotted another duck with a big group of ducklings following her.

I've been to Young's Dairy many, many times (it's actually one of my most favorite ice creams!), but I've never actually been pumpkin picking at Young's.  Let me just say, it was awesome!  There were so many pumpkins and their field is so large!!  I really had a hard time narrowing down which pumpkins to actually take home, because I loved so many of them.
"Oh, mother."
Antoine and I (mainly it's me!) always pick way too many pumpkins to actually take home, so we always line up the candidates in a row to survey possibilities for the keepers in the bunch.  A year or two ago we started another tradition, we make Cheese pose with this assortment of pumpkins.  Because really, what's cuter than a basset hound posing in front a ton of pumpkins?! 
Oh wait, maybe this little family in front of a bunch of pumpkins!?  That's pretty adorable too!

Once we chose all our pumpkins, paid (thanks again, Amanda and Aaron, for the perfect wedding present!), and packed up trunks full of pumpkins we were all ready for a some delicious ice cream and fried cheese curds!
Mmm!  My personal favorite, chocolate peanut butter in a freshly made waffle cone.

Despite the little hiccup at Peifer, our pumpkin picking adventure turned out to be very successful and fun!  And we now have another place in Yellow Spring for pumpkin picking.  After Young's we did a little hiking before parting ways and heading home, but I'll share those photos later this week.  Until then, happy Tuesday!  Are you as ready for the long weekend as I am?!

On a little sidenote, Antoine and I have been married for exactly six months today!  Six years and six months ago today, he picked me up for a date, 45 minutes late, and we ate fondue together while I'll babbled on and he listened.  Now I can't imagine my life without him!  He's such a caring, funny man and I absolutely love the life and home we've created together.  Happy six-month-anniversary, Tran!


Friday Fun with GIFs: No. 9

I've been slacking on the photo editing lately, but I've been busy!  Mostly fun stuff though, like my family cabin weekend in Hocking Hills this past weekend and last night I went with the girls to see Mocking Jay (which was great!).  Anyway, since it's Friday I thought I'd share a couple gifs from our pumpkin picking adventure this October in Yellow Springs.  This year we met up with Amanda and Aaron and both couples brought the dogs along to enjoy in the fun...
Oh Cheese, stop looking so miserable!  He apparently hates posing with pumpkins, he just likes eating them.
Fall cousin photo...isn't this the cutest?!

So with that, happy Friday everyone!  How's your weekend shaping up?  I've got a ridiculously long to-do list that I'm hoping I can get at least half way through.  One of the things on the list is to polyurethane the desk in the guest bedroom that I painted...over a year ago!  Yeah, that still isn't done.  Don't judge me!  Anyway, hope you all have a lovely productive and/or relaxing weekend.


Cincinnati Nature Center

Back in mid-October, in between our trip to the Sunflower Festival and our pumpkin picking adventure in Yellow Springs (photos coming soon), Antoine and I decided to check out the Cincinnati Nature Center.  The Nature Center is one of those Cincinnati spots that I had heard about for years, but had never been to.  It's all the way in the Eastern outskirts of Cincinnati and is a common spot for weddings and family photo-shoots with photographers (both of which we encountered on our visit).  We brought Cheese along with us and enjoyed a little over 3 hours worth of hiking around the Nature Center.  Not a bad way to spend your Saturday afternoon!
Cheese always enjoys a good creek.
"Cheese, you have a little something hanging from your face...oh, nevermind!"
The visitor's center had a variety of stuffed animals.  This guy was my favorite.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Nature Center.  If you've never been I highly suggest checking it out sometime.  It's definitely worth the admission fee.  It has so many travels of all different difficulties.  And each trail is slightly different and interesting in its own least I noticed this amongst the 4 or 5 trails we hiked.  Some trails offer wooded walks among tall trees, others feature rumbling little creeks, while the meadow/marshes are home to a variety of flowers and ponds filled with little creatures and fish.  I'd say there's a little bit of something for everyone!

Have you ever been to the Cincinnati Nature Center?  If so, what's your favorite time of year to go?  Any favorite trails?  I definitely want to go back in the Spring/early Summer when more flowers are blooming.  I think the Edge trail and the Discovery trail would be particularly nice that time of year!