Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Columbus Scottish Festival

One of the things I truly enjoy about living in Columbus, Indiana is that it never stops surprising me. (Not always in a good way... I've been truly shocked by behavior I've observed at WalMart. But that's true everywhere, right?)

Often these moments of unexpected joy happen at events we decide to check out spur of the moment. A few weekends ago, we headed to the Columbus Scottish Festival. A celebration of Scotland smack dab in the middle of southern Indiana. Naturally.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Cheesey attempts at the Scottish brogue? Lame faux kilts? Out of tune bagpipers? So far from the truth. Yes, we saw kilts. But they were the real deal.

Later, Little Arrow tapped his toes while Big Arrow rocked out to the tunes of a funky Celtic band.

Then we listened to a dragon tell tales of knights and princesses.

But my favorite part of the day was observing the opening ceremonies, followed by the Highland Games. All extremely authentic. I never realized how moving the sound of dozens and dozens of bagpipers could be. (I kind of expected Mel Gibson to come riding through on horseback shouting "Freedom!!!")

And I was incredibly impressed by men who could launch a 50 lb. weight high into the air while wearing a kilt.

Only to be outdone by men launching towering logs across the field.

Scotland has long been on my list of places to visit. At least I got a little taste right in my own backyard.

PS: The Arrows had a lot of fun at the Festival and were all smiles (until it was time to leave).

This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome Columbus Magazine readers!

Hello out there! If you found Arrows Sent Forth via Columbus Magazine, welcome! We're a local family that loves to travel, both around Indiana and around the country. We share the stories from our adventures on this blog.

Big Arrow is 3 1/2 and Little Arrow is almost 10 months old. Here they are enjoying the recent Columbus Scottish Festival (which I'll be writing more about next week):

You can read more about our family and this blog here. And if you're looking for family-friendly day trip ideas around the state, be sure to check out my Indiana Adventures page (there's an entire section on fun things to do around Columbus).

If you'd like to keep up with us, you can subscribe via a reader here, or fill in your email address in the box in the upper left corner and you'll get new posts delivered straight to your inbox. Or follow our adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

And if you're so inclined, leave me a comment below and introduce yourself. I always love to hear from new readers, especially those that are practically neighbors!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Curious Kids' Museum in St. Joseph, Michigan

When I was in southwestern Michigan this summer, my travel companions included four kids ages 4 and under (this included Big Arrow, 3 years old, and Little Arrow, at the time 7 months old, plus my nephew, 4 1/2, and my niece, 2 1/2). We mostly filled our days with the ultimate kid-pleasing activity: playing at the beach.

But we reached a point where we all needed a bit of a break from the sun, sand and surf, so we spent a morning at the Curious Kids' Museum in nearby St. Joseph, Michigan. Because if it's one thing we had in abundance, it was curious kids.

I've been to many children's museums since becoming a mom (including the world's largest in Indianapolis). Curious Kids' is a great one because it has a wide variety of activities, from a realistic vet clinic:

to an Australian Outback camp:

to a local news studio. (Big Arrow did an awesome rundown of the weather that day.)

There seemed to be at least 20 or so different exhibit areas, each very different from the next. Great for a group of kids who are equally as diverse in their interests and personalities. I loved that the focus in most of the spaces was on imaginative and make believe play.

We also saw kids of every age happy, including babies. They have a great "Toddle Farm" for kids 4 and younger. Since it often feels as though we just drag Little Arrow along on adventures that are designed for Big Arrow, I loved getting to watch him do some exploring of his own.

If you're spending some time hitting the beaches of Lake Michigan next summer, or if you're visiting this area in the off-season, put the Curious Kids Museum on your rainy day list.

If You Visit:
Curious Kids' Museum
415 Lake Boulevard, St. Joseph, Michigan
Hours and admission prices vary depending on time of year.

Insider Tip: If you're bringing more than one kid to the museum, have a little chat before going in about everyone staying together and on the same floor. Or bring another adult along. My only complaint about this museum is that each exhibit is in an entirely separate room, making it difficult to supervise multiple kids if they don't play together.

You might also be interested in my tips for visiting a children's museum.

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

St. Joseph, Michigan

During our trip to New Buffalo, Michigan this summer, we spent a day exploring nearby St. Joseph, Michigan. What a lovely little town along Lake Michigan. In fact, I've yet to be disappointed by any place I've explored in southwest Michigan. Such a wonderful area for vacationing families.

Once we arrived, we had about 20 minutes until our intended destination, the Curious Kids Museum, opened. So we wandered up and down Lake Boulevard, with the sparkly water blinking at us in the distance.

Then we noticed that the kids were being pretty patient and loving. A rare moment when traveling with four kids ages 4 and under.

This was when I decided it might be a good time for some family portraits. Because mama wanted in on those brotherly snuggles.

And so did their grandfather.

My sister's kids were cooperating as well. Aren't they adorable?

And then, like adults are prone to do, we pushed them past their limits to try to get just a few more shots. And suddenly there was instant camera fade. (This was the best I got from about 20 attempts. At one point my niece was picking her nose and lifting her dress over her head at the same time. I'll save that one for an "outtakes" post at some point!)

Kudos to my parents for traveling with this gaggle of kids. While the dads were back at home working, the grandparents got put to work too!

Thanks for indulging me in a little play-by-play of family pictures, Arrows Sent Forth-style. If you're looking for more information on visiting St. Joseph, Michigan with kids, I'll be back with a post about the Curious Kids Museum next week.

In the meantime, here are a few other posts I've written about southwestern Michigan:

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What We Eat for Dinner the Night Before Vacation

Tonight as I was making a very typical dinner for our family, I realized that we eat some variation of this meal just about every night before we're heading out on vacation. And I thought I'd share, in case you too often find yourself staring into a nearly empty fridge with nothing but a few staples and some produce that will go bad before you return home.

Or am I the only one who faces that each and every time we're leaving on vacation?

So here's my big fancy recipe. Get a notebook, you're going to want to write this down. Kidding.

First, I saute whatever vegetables we have on hand. This almost always includes an onion, and tonight I also had a yellow squash. (I've used all kinds of stuff in this. It's been a great way to use whatever remains at the end of the week before I pick up our next CSA box.)

Once they're nice and brown and soft, add eggs. Then scramble them all up together.

Yup. Scrambled eggs. Sometimes called brinner. I clearly do not have a future as a food blogger.

But I thought it was worth sharing for a lot of reasons. If you're like me, the night before a vacation typically involves frantically packing, bathing kids, doing laundry, trying to organize the house a bit, filling the car up with gas, and any other umpteenth chore on your list. Dinner is something I usually think about at 5:30 as my husband is walking in the door and the Arrows are getting really cranky.

So here's why this meal rules:

1) It goes well with anything else you might have lying around about to go bad or stale. Toast. Fruit. Yogurt. Tonight I made it with these yummy potatoes from the Pioneer Woman (also super easy), some leftover zucchini bread I made over the weekend, and an avocado. Sometimes we've added the remains of taco night fixings for a little Mexican flavor. And add whatever cheese you have left in the deli bin too!

2) It's a one dish wonder. Clean up a little frying pan and you're ready to move on to your other pre-vacation tasks.
3) You don't have to leave the house. Going out to dinner and keeping my little boys happy at a restaurant is the last thing I want to do when I know I'll be doing that night after night when we're traveling.
4) It's relatively healthy. We don't always eat balanced meals when we're on the road, especially Big Arrow, so I like to get one last serving of protein and veggies in.
5) We all like it. Big Arrow is ridiculously picky, and this is one of the few meals that we all eat the same thing. Even Little Arrow is starting to get in on the action of this meal.

(Don't you wish you had someone to cut up your food into itty bitty pieces... ah, to be a baby!)

So what do you eat the night before you go on vacation? I'd love some other ideas!

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Walkingon Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups. (Speaking of Suitcases and Sippy Cups, I met them last week when they rolled through Indiana on their big road trip! Check it out here.)

I'm also linking up with Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick. I bet you'll find posts about food far more exotic and delicious than scrambled eggs over there this week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Memories from an Indianapolis Indians game

Anyone else mourning the unofficial end of summer? In so many ways, it seems as though its the summer months that define a year. Where did you vacation? How did you spend those long, hot days? What sun-filled memories will carry you through the cold, dreary months?

One of the quintissential summer memories for our family is a night at the ballpark. I'm sure it's grand to live in a city with a Major League team. I've been to a few of those games and ballparks and they're awesome. But with young kids, sometimes the ease, affordability and relaxing atmosphere of a Minor League game is where summer dreams are made.

We joined my sister's family this year for a fun night in the lawn area of Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians. Kids got spoiled with sugary treats, babies got held, and adults chatted. And we even caught a few pitches and hits in between.

In a few months, when the sun sets before we've even sat down to dinner, I know I'll be happy we savored a long summer night, eating cotton candy when we'd normally be going through our bedtime routine. Watching the sun set behind the ballpark grandstands is a far better view, in my opinion.

If you're in the Indianapolis area, you're in luck. The Indians wrap up their season with home games this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You'll find the Indians schedule here.

Last year, I wrote about attending an Indianapolis Indians game here. This post includes some tips and money-saving ideas.

Did you make any memories at the ballpark this summer?

This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Experiencing Pinconning Cheese

When we headed up to tiny Pinconning, Michigan this summer, we expected warm, breezy days by the lake. A handful of small diners or fast food options if we wanted to dine out. A boat ride around Saginaw Bay. I got all those things. (I wrote a bit about our week in Pinconning here.)

But I didn't expect to expand my culinary world just a bit. But with the introduction of Pinconning cheese to my palate, I did just that. My interest was piqued as we drove through town on our way to my inlaws' cottage. A few cheese shops dotted the main drag. It was actually Big Arrow who drew my attention to them... one has a gigantic mouse eating a wedge of cheese on the roof and he was naturally delighted by that.

Sure enough, when my inlaws put out a table full of food that first day, one of our snacking options was a tub of Pinconning cheese horseradish spread. (The Williams brand. It matters.) One scoop on a pretzel and I was hooked. We all were, actually (brother-in-law, I'm looking at you, buddy).

So on a rainy morning with little else to do to pass the time, we ventured out to the Pinconning Cheese Store to explore this a bit more. Big Arrow was sold right at the entrance, having been welcomed by a very familiar face.

We were greeted by kind ladies who offered us samples. One glance through the glass display case and it will be clear that they're particularly known for the sharpest cheddar you'll ever find, anywhere.

I sampled their sharpest variety. Aged 16 years. So sharp it makes your mouth pucker.

They also sell a variety of other products, like smoked fish, candy, and hot sauces. I dig a store with a sense of humor. (Kids, look away.)

Naturally, on their most recent trip up, my inlaws' brought some of that amazing horseradish spread back for us (we may or may not have put in a request for it). I now spend afternoon naptime trying to avoid it in the fridge, and ultimately failing and eating way too much of it at 3 p.m. each day.

Last week, the letter "a" got stuck on my laptop from pretzel crumbs. Oops.

If You Visit:
Pinconning Cheese Company
221 North Mable Street, Pinconning, MI
Call 800.678.1962 for hours.
Insider Tip: There are actually 3 different cheese companies in Pinconning: Pinconning Cheese Company, Wilson's and Williams. (Healthy competition, I guess.) Take your pick, but I liked the Pinconning Cheese Store for sampling the cheese, especially the sharp cheddars. I hear they're the ones who age it the longest. But like I said, don't miss Williams' horseradish spread.

This post is a part of Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.