25 December 2010

Mele Kalikimaka

...is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you!

Hope you have a great Christmas and a fulfilling, joyous New Year. See you next year!

Peace and Love,

21 December 2010

Not a fashion consultant

This is why no one will ever ask me for fashion advice:

  • a sassy homemade apron
  • seasonally-appropriate grungy Old Navy shirt
  • my grandpa's old overalls, probably from the 1970s or 80s, complete with stains from who-knows-what on the thighs.
  • Hair in pigtail buns. Yes I'm 28. Why do you ask?
Not shown:
  • down bootie slippers
  • seasonally-appropriate snowflake socks
  • and the torn cuff of my overalls, still safety-pinned since circa 2003 when I ripped it on my bike.
Yep. Pinnacle of Fashion. I guess that's where Doodle gets it.

19 December 2010

Handmade holiday overload!

The crafting is (again? still? always?) going full-tilt 'round these parts. Yummy sugary things have been made...

...many child paintings have been completed (and then repurposed)...

...and the pile of sewing is slowly getting smaller.

After the traveling and the celebrating (and after these things are no longer surprises) I promise I'll show off some of the things I've been making. In the mean time, I'm off to crank up some festive music and sew and glue and bedazzle and package away!

17 December 2010

That time of year again...

...time to bust out John Denver and the Muppets!

16 December 2010

This is what happens...

...when you leave the 14 month old at the table to play after breakfast. You find him digging all four of his little teeth into the stick of butter, happy as can be. *sigh* Cute happy culprit visible in the background.

15 December 2010


Just before Thanksgiving our good friend Jake came and stayed with us for a couple of days. We hung out, drank beer, watched birds in our yard, sang a nerdy plant song (which I will post soon, I hope), played with ketchup birds and went bouldering. We were all glad to spend time with him. Doodle was thrilled to have one of her favorite grown-ups from Utah here to play with her, and barely left his side the entire time.

It was really great to see him and catch up. Thanks for coming to visit, Jake! Next time: another growler and a pollination song!

14 December 2010

All About Doodle - Four

The idea for this interview was blatantly stolen from our Awesome (former) Neighbors. Just to give credit where credit is due. All answers are Doodle’s; my notes come after the *.

Favorite Subject: Wishes like hugging bears for my birthday.

Favorite Song: Twinkle twinkle little star

Favorite Albums: No! (*by They Might Be Giants)

Favorite Videos: Thomas

Favorite Movie: Signing Time Happy Birthday to You
Favorite Books: Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep on a Hike, Ladybug Girl
Favorite Toy: Emily (* toy train she got today from Ari), parachutes (*old cargo chute from Granddad is hanging in her room as a fort right now)

Favorite Color: Purple
Favorite Person: Ari
Favorite Game: Run around with friends, Molopoly 

Favorite Place: the Dentist

Favorite Place to Go: to the Farmer’s Market, Hawaii
 (*we’re going to Hawaii for Christmas and she’s very excited)
Favorite Activities: get presents, play games, make friends, to color, watch movies in the movie theater, play at my play kitchen.

Things That Really Bug You: mosquitoes.

Your Secret Wish: the secret playground. *restated, emphasizing the Wish part: wishing to get a present that a friend gave me like a pretend candle
Your Best Friends: Ari and Sylvie and Jennifer and Lindsey and Hayley because she’s awesome.

Favorite Food: cupcakes, chicken soup

Favorite Trip: hiking, Hawaii 

Things You Don't Like to Do: sometimes I don’t want to say thank you because I’m sometimes grumpy at them. I don’t probably like to get spiders in my body.

What You Want to Be When You Grow Up: a princess or a queen or a prince. *restated, asking what job she wants to have when she grows up: I want to have a flower job. I want to study flowers.

13 December 2010

Doodle's 4th birthday

Four years ago this amazing little person came into the world, into our lives. Before Doodle I never could have imagined I could love someone so very much.

We're busy celebrating her today.

Tonight I hope to read "On the Day You Were Born" with her. At the end we'll whisper into her open, curving ear, "We're so glad you've come."

Happy fourth birthday, my sweet Doodle.

12 December 2010

Almost Four and ready to fly

The birthday crown

She's bouncing bouncing everywhere, reminding us at least once an hour that tomorrow she'll be Four!!!

While watching climbing/base-jumping/wing suit flying videos with J this morning, they struck a deal.

Papa, when I'm big like Jake, I want to fly.
Me too, Doodle.
Papa, maybe we can fly together!
When you're big enough.

14 years (+ 1 day) and she'll be old enough to sign her own waiver. And chances are, she and her Papa probably will fly together someday.

I'll be sitting by, watching and marveling at how the time has flown by. Just like I am today.

08 December 2010

The decking of the halls

Every year until now we've held off on holiday decorating until after Doodle's Big Day. This year, being nearly four and full of opinions, we consulted her. Given the options of only birthday decorations until December 14th or decorate for Xmas now and add birthday decor on top, she chose the latter. I was slightly surprised, but I know how much she likes the sparkles and novelty of decorating for something special, so we went with it.

A small tree was purchased and thoroughly covered in fabric birds, cones gathered on hikes and then smeared with glitter glue, and a bazillion bells.

I love the blend of nature and glitz we have going on. Especially the little fabric bird sitting watch on top, possibly keeping an eye on its nest:

In further Bday-Xmas fusion style, Doodle has suggested that we put her birthday presents beneath the tree until it's time to open them. We'll see...

07 December 2010

Counting down

See that purple link with the star? That's a fourth birthday, rapidly approaching. After that there will be some hanging out and merriment and more presents and flying to Hawaii and such. But right now what matters most is that there are only six! days! left!

She's already planning her cake (the standard maple-carrot cake, but with red and yellow frosting) and her birthday dinner (chicken soup). Plus lots of presents and maybe even some cake eating before dinner. I foresee her spending each of the next six days lobbying for cake-before-dinner.

I foresee myself agreeing with her.

(Especially when she's wearing the awesome birthday crown I finished for her last night. Shhhhh! It's a surprise...)

06 December 2010


In addition to learning a new flora now that we're out East, I also have a new avifauna to work on. I've never been an avid birder, and am frankly a bit embarrassed by my general lack of birding knowledge. I have slowly been working to hone some birding skillz by attempting to identify all of the birds I see in or near our yard. I have started to keep a Yard Bird List over there ---> in the right sidebar (so you subscribed readers will just have to come look at my blog itself to check it out).

The birds so far are pretty standard for this area. The Downy Woodpecker is nesting in our neighbor's Oak tree, and had a territorial dispute with the White-breasted Nuthatch a couple of weeks ago that was very fun and interesting to watch. The Blue Jays and Dark-eyed Juncos have been making the circuit through our yard each morning for the past couple of weeks, as have the Cardinals a little later in the morning. I'm enjoying getting to know our avian neighbors a little better, and slowly work on my birding skills. Maybe by the end of winter I'll even have a handle on what the darn unknown sparrow hanging out with the Juncos is.

If you're curious and want to see some pretty photos of some of our local birds, check out this blog post by the folks at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center (just a bit south of us). If you've never seen a Tufted Titmouse you should really look at the photos to see what a cute little bird it is.

Oh, and I almost forgot! If you have a bird feeder and are interested in learning more about the birds in your area and conducting a little Citizen Science, check out Project Feederwatch. Lacking a feeder, I've opted not to participate this year, but they have some awesome resources like this poster of common Eastern feeder birds that I just stumbled across. I may figure out that sparrow yet!

03 December 2010

Dinos in Durham

While in N.C. we visited the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. It was AWESOME. We first rode the little train around, from which you can see the longneck (above; yes, she recently watched The Land Before Time) and Meat Eater!!! (below; it's an Albertosaurus).

After the train we walked through the dinosaur park exhibit, marveling at the size of the dinos and how cool they all were.

(Above: Leptoceratops)
We even got to dig for fossils, and found some! The museum had trucked in a bunch of soil from a nearish quarry where lots of small shell, coral, etc. fossils are regularly found. That was cool.

In all, the museum was amazing. There was a large outside portion, including the train, dino trail and a butterfly pavilion (also very cool). In fact, we hardly spent much time inside, but what little we did see was really neat. We'll definitely have to visit this museum again.

Wish I could remember the name of this one. Has anyone else noticed how many more dinosaur names kids know these days? Why, back in my day, we had Stegosaurus, T Rex and Triceratops. Everything else was "a dinosaur like..." one of those three. Oh, plus dinosaurs like the characters from Land Before Time. At least until Hollywood brought us the Velociraptors.

Doodle even got to sit on one. It's a Parasaurolophus, of course.

02 December 2010


Doodle & J went fishing while we were in N.C.
No fish were caught, but she had a lot of fun in the process.

01 December 2010


Our first dusting of snow in State College. The holly looks so festive, so perfect for the season. (Note the oaks, still with a bunch of lower leaves, in the background. I wonder when they'll finally drop.)

Today we made a paper chain to countdown the days until Doodle's birthday and Christmas. This year she has declared that we should start decorating for Christmas before her bday, so we're putting wires on our stuffed birds (to perch them in our tree, once we have it) and glitter-gluing our assortment of collected cones (also for the tree). I'm enjoying the holiday crafting with Doodle, plus sneakily sewing some surprises for her after she goes to bed.

Here's to embracing the magic and the fun of December!

The Bird

Is it bad that I'm so very amused by this photo?

She had a sweat bee on her finger, and was showing it to me. I swear I didn't pose her.

Excuse me while I giggle inappropriately, and save this photo for her to see when she's 16 and will think it's awesome. Heh heh.

30 November 2010

Thoughts and ramblings on radical homemaking and such

I recently posted on facebook that I'm fantasizing about rural/communal living. I was only a little bit joking.

I am reading Radical Homemakers. (It feels ironic to link to big corporate Amazon for this book.) I'm thinking about society, what I value and how I want to live. Thinking about our consumer culture, and how I want to fight it, subvert it. Avoid corporate anything as much as possible. Make my own, or buy directly from the people who do grow/make things. Local meats, eggs, dairy, veggies, grains. Make our own pasta, graham crackers, soups, snacks ... what about cheese? yogurt? I haven't tried making these but I know it's do-able and well within reason. Sure it takes time, but I'm home. Plus I feel it's valuable to teach the kids how much we really can do or make ourselves. Teach them skills, not consumerism.

I'm also thinking about what I can do, what things I can make or services I can provide that might be tradeable; what I can contribute to my community. I'm not sure. I need to look into local native bee stuff, maybe start doing some outreach. I plan to talk to the Master Gardener group coordinator to see if I can maybe give a talk about native bees and how to manage for them.

I miss living next door to The Best Neighbors Ever, swapping kid care, feeding their chickens and stealing eggs, borrowing their dog for the occasional hike, and sharing the yards we collectively (mostly jokingly) referred to as The Compound. I miss seeing and interacting with our neighbors. This isolated living, houses close together but closed up tight is not my thing. People are hardly ever out in their yards. I've barely talked to one of our neighbors, and hardly ever see the others. It feels cold. It doesn't feel like home.

I'm thinking about the possibility of moving to a smaller house, one with a gardenable patch of yard (and just maybe a place to have 2-4 chickens). Less house square footage but more livable real estate as a whole. Maybe it's just a fantasy. I'm not sure yet. I don't know if it's worth the stress and hassle of finding another house and moving again.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, or where these ramblings and ideas will lead. We may or may not move. Someday we'll probably have chickens, though that may not happen while we're in PA. I don't know.

26 November 2010

Thankful in N.C.

We're enjoying North Carolina. The kids did well on the drive Wednesday, and we only got lost near the very end of the drive (curse you, Google Maps!). Yesterday we hung out, relaxed, chatted, and baked. J made the pecan pie while I got Roo down for a nap - his first pecan pie attempt and it turned out great! A former undergrad lab tech of J's, who is now in J's Uncle's lab here, came to dinner and it was fun to catch up with him and his wife. Dinner was delicious and the company was great.

Today Doodle and J are off with Cousin R to try and catch Doodle's first fish. R is an avid fisherman so he's playing guide today and humoring Doodle's interest in fishing. I'm curious to see how it goes.

After they return we'll make an outing to J's Uncle's Lab (at UNC Chapel Hill), then we're off to the children's science museum for additional geekiness that's right up our alley.

Tomorrow: meeting up with a friend from Duke for some indoor rock climbing and a social gathering of pteridologists (fern folk). Then Sunday we hit the road back to PA.

I'm very glad we've made this trip. NC is pretty, and it's fun to see new areas. More importantly, though, it's nice to spend time with family and get to know people better. So in this season of feeling thankful I'm thankful for every member of my family, be they blood relative or not, and whether I've seen them in the past week, month, year or decade. You're all in my heart and I'm glad to have you there.

23 November 2010

N.C. bound

Tomorrow we hit the road to North Carolina, where we will be spending Thanksgiving with J's uncle and his family. I've met this uncle once, and not yet met his wife or kids (college-age). I'm both excited and a tiny bit nervous, but I think it'll be really good.

Happy early Thanksgiving everyone!

21 November 2010


Stuffed birds made to humor Doodle in her desire to decorate our Xmas tree "with birds! All over! And even a red one on the very top!" this year.

Morbid staging by me.

20 November 2010

Host/ess gift ideas?

We're heading to J's Uncle's house in N.C. for Thanksgiving. J hasn't spent much time with this Uncle, Aunt and cousins, and I've only met him once (in October at the wedding).

I'd like to bring them something as a thank you for hosting us, ideally something we can make. I've thought about homemade cloth napkins, a loaf of bread... I really don't know.

Any ideas? What's your favorite "thank you for hosting me/us" gift? Help!

Parachute Fort

It's amazing how an old cargo parachute can transform a boring living room into "The Coolest Fort Ever!!!" Kids can hide under it, hit it, slide small stuffed animals down it over and over (and over and over...) It's great.

Doodle and Roo say "Thanks Granddad!"

19 November 2010

Beware the dangers of tuning out

This dialogue with Doodle occurred this morning, while I was stumbling about and still not fully conscious.

Doodle: Mama, did you know that... [insert big long explanation about something]?
Me: Mmhmm.
Doodle: And did you know that... [more explanation]?
Me: Mmhmm.
Doodle: And Mama, blah blah blah blah blah blah [something I totally missed]?
Me: Mmhmm.
Doodle: Okay! I'll go get some!
Me, regaining consciousness: Wait, what?
Doodle: You said I could have two cookies before breakfast!
Me: What? When?
Doodle: Now.
Me: Umm, let's talk about this.

Apparently I need to pay closer attention to the spunky kid ramblings early in the morning, or else I run the risk of agreeing to convert the lower level of our house into a swimming pool or something. Yikes!

18 November 2010


...should be my middle name. But you already knew that, didn't you?

So I did manage to bake one cookie sheet worth of coffee crisp cookies, plus made the graham cracker dough and nearly completed the PB Crispies yesterday (did all but the top layer). It was a day of near-finishes.

Today I topped the PB crispies and baked most of the graham crackers (which are divine, I might add). I still have 1/3 of the graham dough in the fridge plus 3/4? 4/5? a bunch of the coffee crisp dough to be baked sometime later.

Good enough.

Now for the mile-long list and foot-high pile of sewing projects lying around... *sigh*

Overambitious indeed.

17 November 2010

Heh. Right.

Alternate title: Wishful thinking, Take 2.

All that baking talk yesterday amounted to a whole lotta nothin'. Technically I did attempt to make the spaghetti squash recipe, but our squash sucked and it was the least noteworthy part of dinner.

But today will be different! The kids are still snotty and crabby, but right now Roo is napping and Doodle is being digitally entertained (thank you Pixar!). So I'm off to the kitchen to attempt a PB Crispy/Coffee Crisp/Graham Cracker bakefest. Updates to follow.

16 November 2010

Baking weather

Today it's cold and rainy outside, and gunky and crabby inside. I feel like baking. I'm thinking homemade graham crackers or these awesome-looking peanut butter crispy bars.

Or maybe all of it.

addendum: Or homemade pasta. Ooh, or this spaghetti squash. Oh goodness. Or these cookies. Too many yummy things to make. Time to quit browsing recipes!

15 November 2010

J bouldering

J went out bouldering with some friends on Saturday. Our friend Eric Heiden took some video footage and edited it into this video. Check it out:

PA GRIT from Eric Heiden on Vimeo.

13 November 2010

Unseasonably Warm

The daily weather forecast on the radio has been for "unseasonably warm weather" every day this week. We've made a point to soak up as much of it as possible, knowing that winter is just around the corner.

The insects seem to have the same idea. Ladybugs searching for a good winter hiding spot

while dragonflies squeeze as much living as possible into these last warm days. (Doodle caught this one with my hat, and later it landed on her leg to finish a meal.)

Ahhh, Vitamin D. Good stuff.

Photos from our outing to Penn-Roosevelt State Park.

12 November 2010

Woolly Bear

She talks to it, concerned about its destination. Where are you going, Woolly Bear? Can I help you? Winter's coming soon and you need a home for the winter.

Mom, can we find him a home?
My entomologist heart goes pitter-patter. Of course we can!

We walk along, me enjoying the sun and fresh air, her talking to the caterpillar about finding a safe warm place to hide, and about its future.

When you come out you'll be a beautiful Woolly Bear Monarch Butterfly!
or moth, I interject.)
No, Mom. A butterfly.

We find a hole in a tree. This is perfect! she declares. You'll stay nice and safe and warm, and in the spring you'll be a beautiful butterfly and we can come see you and play! Okay? Okay.

Bye Woolly Bear! Have a good hibernating!

11 November 2010

Photos by Doodle

A view through the Doodle lens.

What I learned from this photo: I look geeky when trying to give photographic direction. Guess I should just let the artist work her magic.

10 November 2010

Mmm, Fall

Sunny Fall days like we've had this week make me wish Winter would take its sweet time in getting here. We can't seem to be outside enough this week. It's great.

08 November 2010


New to us: a play kitchen, handed down from a friend trying to declutter.

I knew Doodle would love having a place to play with all of her pretend food, but I hadn't expected Roo to love it too. He plays alongside his sister, putting cups and cars in the sink, half of his (real) cracker in the oven and running around with a plastic baguette hanging out of his mouth.
I have a feeling this kitchen will get a lot of love from these two this winter.

By the way, anyone know a good source for little kid play pots and pans? Doodle's tiring (already) of cooking her creations in tea cups.

07 November 2010

Leaf Sled

"WooHoo!!!" I hear her yell from the yard.
This is no ordinary leaf pile jumping yell.
Something is up.

Papa made a sled run of leaves, then pulled out our never-been-used, $4 yard sale sled.

Leaf play has hit a whole new level.

Even backwards, laying down.

06 November 2010


She tells me she's a tiger, but don't worry because it's just a pretend tiger.

05 November 2010

Awesome dance face

Doodle took the camera and told me to pose.

No, Mom. Wiggle.

No, wiggle more!

Dance, Mom!


Apparently that's my "I'm dancing awesome for my daughter" face. So. very. cool.

I'll show this to her in ten years, and will never be asked to chaperone anything.

Especially not a dance.

04 November 2010

Rally signs

Last weekend we went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C. We weren't able to get close enough to see the screens or hear what was going on onstage, but was a great people-watching experience. Unfortunately, J and I got split up in the crowd, and spent TWO HOURS trying to find each other before meeting back up at the car. As such, I didn't have the presence of mind to take photos of a lot of the interesting signs and sights at the Rally.

Thanks to the internet I can still share with you my favorite Rally signs, as photographed by other people and posted on Flickr:

Crazy Muslins

Repeal the Third Amendment

Dr. Horrible

Hippies Pee on the Grass

Signs that I wish I'd seen in person:

Hyperbole is the Worst thing i EVERY & You don't equal Hitler

Hyperbole Eats Babies



Day 124/365- JUMP!

Sanity Rally D.C.