Happy birthday to me! I’ve enjoyed yet another trip around the sun, this time with two beautiful little girls alongside my handsome hubby and three doggos. My two-year-old has taught me the art of patience and I mustered up the energy to clean my craft room. It’s a work in progress but now I have a dedicated product photography space to share my beautiful art, gemstones and treasures with you. This was a big step toward achieving my goal to become self-employed. Patience and an organized space are probably the best gifts I’ve ever given myself.

I’m lucky enough to share my birthday with some extraordinary people. Most notably, Spencer’s grandmother. We spent our special day together at their house in Des Moines and had dinner at Chuck’s Restaurant which has been serving Italian food since 1956. Try it once and you’ll see why!

The portions were HUGE, the prices were reasonable and the tomato sauce was exquisite. But I definitely want to try their pizza next time we visit. I watched them box up at least 10 pizzas for take-out while we dined and deliver three to patrons dining in and they looked so good. As always, the girls had a ball playing with their great-grandpa in the living room and sharing cookies and hugs with their great-grandma.

We spent Sunday with the rest of my family in Kansas City doing one of my favorite things – wandering through gardens! Big thanks to Spence for taking pictures with his phone because I brought my camera but forgot to put an SD card in it. Fail!

Although I had only been to Powell Gardens once before for Glow, I absolutely loved my time there and knew we had to go back. I was hoping to return for their jack-o’-lantern festival which they usually put on for two nights each October but was super bummed to find out they aren’t doing it this year. But when I saw an advertisement for their Fall Fling, I made Spence promise to take me – especially because it was Through the Looking Glass themed.

But first, lunch. I remembered seeing all sorts of diners and drive-ins the last time we drove out to Powell Gardens but since we went for Glow at night, they were all closed. I made everyone meet us at Annie’s Route 58 Drive-In in Holden for lunch before our trek through Wonderland. If you find yourself in Holden, check it out! It’s complete with a checkered floor, horseshoe bar, model cars and murals of classic cars all around the building.

Spence and I had delicious pork tenderloins – although I totally should have gotten their special which was a chicken fried chicken dinner for $8. It came with two sides and looked so dang good. But this was a tenderloin for the books! I’ve seen a lot of big pork tenderloins during my Midwest adventures but this one was so monstrous it seriously could have been split between Spence, Reila and myself.

Two things I hope to return to this area to do is visit an antique mall called the Golden Unicorn in Holden which had fabulous murals of all different types of unicorns painted on the side of their building and try Johnny Ray’s Drive-In in Lee’s Summit. If I’m going to spend money, I want it to go to one-of-a-kind local businesses.

Powell Gardens went all out for their Fall Fling. The story of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland unfolded as we traversed the mile-long trail with each character made out of pumpkins! How they got the pink and purple pumpkin bodied Cheshire Cat to stay securely on a tree branch is a magical myster to me. The artists pulled inspiration from all sorts of retellings of Alice’s adventures including Lewis Carroll’s book, Disney’s cartoon, and Tim Burton’s version.

I wore the technicolor dreamcoat my sis and mom-in-law got me for my birthday a few years back in Omaha and fit right in with all the sites we saw after falling down the rabbit hole into wonderland. It’s no surprise the mushroom garden was my favorite spot. Spence even caught a video of my running around it like a toddler. Now, I just need to transform my backyard into a giant mushroom garden.

When we went on October 13, they had their beer garden open with a live polka band. The archways leading in glimmered with metallic gold pumpkins. We played croquet with flamingos and corn hole in this area. Near the Queen of Heart’s Castle at the jumping fountain, a chessboard was set up. It was such a beautiful day, Reila and Spennie even got to run through the fountain.

After we completed our adventures in wonderland, we decided to check out Powell Gardens’ greenhouses. As soon as I walked in, I said to Spence, “It smells like tea!” Not just any tea. Jasmine tea. My favorite tea. And then, I saw it – a jasmine tree! I had never seen jasmine blossoms in real life so it was a real treat. You can see a picture of me standing next to this petite beauty in the gallery below. We also were excited to recognize the pawpaw tree after our visit to the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center.

I love having a spooky season birthday when the weather is generally beautiful. Scratch that, PERFECT. Fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month, although I’m probably biased because of my birthday. No two birthdays of mine have ever been the same and it has been a blast celebrating my life in so many different states from New England across the Midwest.

Are you a fall baby? Do you have a favorite birthday memory? Share in the comments below. If you’re from Kansas City, let me know if you got the chance to follow the white rabbit through Powell Gardens and what you thought of it!

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