We went to visit my Mother-In-Law & Step-Father-In-Law on their 13 acre homestead in Sonoma County, CA in June of this year. It’s a really special place – there are large Redwood trees in the wooded parts of their land and there is also a big creek running through the property. In the middle of it all is their passive solar hand-built house and several large growing areas for their various veggie gardens, vineyard and greenhouse for my MIL’s lavender growing business. The views are beautiful and you can see large vineyards for miles around.
My MIL spins her own wool on her spinning wheel, has a loom to weave it on and showed my son, Leif how to card the fibers and then to spin it on the wheel. He thought this was great fun.
We did many special things while we were there and since my son likes art projects, I thought it would be interesting for him when we took hikes around the property to collect cool looking items we found in nature to build some fairy houses on the banks of the creek. He loved that idea since we have read a few books about this. I think by the end of our trip, he built 5 fairy houses and we took many pictures of them all.
My husband and I took a day off to be by ourselves to celebrate his birthday and go to some wineries for wine tasting and to see some sights around Sonoma County. One place we went to is an exact reproduction of a 12th century castle just outside of Calistoga called Castello di Amorosa. It was awesome! Such amazing detail work with actual artifacts from salvaged castles – including the stones of the castle – were shipped over from Europe to build it.
Since our son was hanging out with his Grandma and Papa all day on the homestead, they had some fun projects lined up for him, too. My Mother-In-Law knew in advance that we were taking a day to ourselves so she gathered items from local thrift stores to build a “scarecrow boy” the size of Leif. He LOVED this! When it was done, they staked it right in the middle of a new garden bed.
He did a special building project with his Papa, too. My son requested to build and paint “a sculpture.” So my FIL gathered some scrap wood from his workshop and found some paints and Leif said he wanted to build a tree. The two of them laid out the design and then my FIL nailed it together and Leif very carefully painted it green and brown. He decided before we left to give it to his Grandma to hang in her greenhouse “so she could remember him!”
Later that day, they had to gather up some firewood to stack outside their house and my son had a great time helping to load up the pick up truck from the various wood piles in the woods and then help unloading and stacking the split logs by the house. They would have gone swimming in the creek but it was a little too cool to do that so they built another fairy house instead. He had a great day alone with his grandparents and we had fun drinking wine, going out to dinner and seeing the sights alone, too.
Café Gratitude opened a restaurant in their town a few months earlier and I was ecstatic to be able to finally go in person! I had purchased their cookbook last year and I think they craft some of the greatest raw food recipes. We ate there 3 different times! Michael and I went to dinner there after our day out alone and saw local musicians play while eating. Such a perfect ending to a perfect day!
On my husband’s actual birthday, we helped my MIL work in her booth at the local farmer’s market. She sells lavender plants of all different sizes and varieties. She cultivates 38 varieties now and is always testing out new kinds to see how well they will do in her area before she will grow and sell them. There is even a white lavender variety named “Melissa” that she grows & sells. And out of all the herbs I work with, lavender happens to be my favorite. I even had some sprigs of it in my wedding bouquet.
We had a family birthday dinner that night back at the homestead with relatives that live in their area. We drank lots of great wine and I learned so much more about the art of crafting wine this trip since my FIL has been making his own wine for decades. Michael’s Step-Brother-In-Law gave him a bottle of his own homegrown, locally pressed extra virgin olive oil. It is SO GOOD!! I wish we could grow our own olive tree orchard where we live! We learned more about this process, too.
We visited Bodega Bay and played by the ocean (which is always cold and breezy), went to Armstrong Woods State Park which is an amazing place to hike around the giant Sequoias (can you see me in the tree photo below?). We also visited “Train Town” in Sonoma which was so fun for Leif.
It’s so nice to spend quality time with family and get a fun vacation out of it, too!