With the month of October completely taken up by Halloween preparations—I finally got decently lit photos of our costumes, which I’ll share in the next few days—I endeavored to spend November on more practical sewing. But, as is often the case, the moment I decided that I’d spend my free time making was precisely the moment that work ramped up and my free time evaporated. I had three deadlines last week alone, and a new employee to train on top of it, which has meant many late evenings and little to no energy to do basic maintenance tasks like cooking and laundry, to say nothing of crafting.

But I did manage to set aside a little time last weekend to celebrate my birthday, and I thought I’d share a glimpse of that, because while I’d like every post to have a new garment or a new project—I very much wanted to have completed a new skirt to wear on my birthday—I don’t want my lack of tangible accomplishments to weigh me down. I want to cherish the small moments. I hope you’ll indulge me.

Justin took me to visit the historic Oak View County Park, a former cotton plantation in Raleigh that’s free to visit (but donations are welcome, of course). We’ve visited before to explore the farm history building, main house, detached kitchen, and cotton gin barn, and to view the livestock barn, carriage house, and tenant house. The main house remains unfurnished and the tenant house is undergoing renovation, so on this visit we decided to enjoy the grounds instead. November is pecan season, and Wake County Parks & Rec lets visitors gather pecans for free; they only ask that you limit yourself to one brown paper lunch bag, so that others get a chance to collect them, too.


The property is about 3 acres, and the pecan grove is spread over at least half of it. We were advised to pick from the ground rather than directly from the trees, since the unfallen nuts are usually underripe. The areas nearest the main house and paths were picked over already, so we had to go further afield.


We quickly discovered that we weren’t the only ones with a taste for pecans: we found many that had a tiny, circular hole bored into the shell, which is a sign that a worm has gotten inside and, often, eaten the meat already. We had the most success picking ones that still had the husk on. Removing the husks caused a few bent and dirty fingernails, but the reward was this:


The weather was brisk, but pleasant—perfectly autumnal. We spent somewhere between an hour and two hours foraging, and came away with about two cups of nuts. After we brought them home, boiled them to make cracking the shells easier, and discarded the rotten ones, we were left with maybe a handful of edible nuts. I see now why they’re so expensive at the store!

We supplemented our little trove with purchased pecans and made a pecan pie, my first time making AND eating one. The verdict? I think a plain pecan pie is a little too sweet and one-note for me, but I’m keen to try a recipe that incorporates other flavors or textures. (Wouldn’t a cheesecake with a pecan-pie-filling-like crust be amazing?)

But I don’t think I’ll be foraging the ingredients for each and every attempt, otherwise I might never find enough good nuts to try again! Unless this find brings me a little extra luck next time: