blog_banner 20

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Because we need a little Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, other than me in my blouse.

Christmas 2016.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In the hopes that they would fit one ginormous polar bear.

Coco Kitty opening her presents.

On Christmas morning, Lauren always helps the pets open their presents before opening her own. Kitty Coconut received a little set of breakfast themed toys shaped like toast, bacon and an egg.

 Coco loves her bacon!

One of the highlights of Christmas morning was watching Coco play with her bacon. That kitty really loves her bacon!

 Kitty with her bacon.




Lauren opening presents.

Then it was Lauren's turn. Don't be fooled by the fact that she is fully dressed for the day. These events did indeed take place at around six o'clock in the morning.

 Wow, sheet music!

Wait, what's this?

 Taylor Swift for clarinet!

YES!!! Taylor Swift sheet music for the clarinet!

Tearing through the gifts.

And the opening continued on...

Happy girl.

...and on...

Christmas wishes do come true!

...and on. Until Lauren's Christmas wish came true in the form of an XBox One.

Family room Christmas morning.

Then it was our turn to open our presents. We had to put them on the chairs because they are not permitted under "Lauren's Tree." I didn't take any photos of us opening because I was the only one still wearing my pajamas like a normal person, and therefore not photo ready. Mark got some socks with chickens on them, a book about tree houses, a new cel phone, a toaster, and some shirts. I got a pillow with a cat on it, pajamas, a few tops including a Francisco Cervelli t-shirt, a throw, vintage Christmas ornaments, and some coloring books.

 But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and I hope the polar bear doesn't bite!”

Christmas crafting is not dead.

Santa jars.

Back in the olden days, I used to craft for Christmas, making gifts and decorations for presents. As the years passed, the time available to prepare for Christmas just got shorter and shorter in supply, and crafting was one of the casualties. But Lauren brought back the tradition this year by making these cute jars to give out as gifts.

Snowman jars.

Elf jars.

This idea was brought to you by the magic of Pintrest and this link.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Holly and the Ivy.

 Holly and Ivy.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

Earlier this week, we decided it was time to fill the void in our chicken coop, so we traveled to a Freehling Farms, which is located somewhere in the middle of Kittanning, so we could pick out a couple of new residents. Out of the hundreds of chicks to choose from, these two won the lottery. Meet Holly and Ivy.

 Hanging out on our farmer's lap.

Holly is the one wearing the leg warmers. She's a cochin. Ivy is a blue laced red wyandotte. Ivy is the feisty one. Mark thinks that she may turn out to be a rooster because she's always standing straight and tall. Holly, on the other hand, is very mellow.

 Just another ornament. Nothing to see here.

She likes to roost on anything and everything. 

Chick Kringle.

And she didn't even mind wearing a hat!

And to all a good night.

Did I mention that she's really mellow?

In everything, give thanks.


Last week, we celebrated an extended Thanksgiving. We packed three full days with gratitude, family and fun.

Turkey time.

It's typical on Thanksgiving to be thankful for having food on the table. This year we had an unusually big turkey for our feast - 20 pounds to be exact. We were particularly thankful for this turkey, not because of its size, but because it represented that we were having a BIG FAMILY Thanksgiving, as our cousins Nick and Noreen were coming to join us!

As a side note, there was some concern that the turkey was going to be to big for the roaster. Thankfully, it fit.


We are thankful for social media, for without it, we would not know that we could craft a turkey from pepperoni, cheese and crackers.

On the road.

We are thankful that we were able to avoid all the Black Friday shoppers because we have a city that's filled with history, culture and pretty things to admire, and not just Wal-Marts. Here's Lauren learning how to drive on a Model T in the car and carriage museum at The Frick.

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show.

Later that evening, we went to the Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps Conservatory.

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show.

Phipps Conservatory Light 

Noreen, Lauren and Me.

 Us with our Michigan family.

 Football trash talk.

We're thankful for football, even if it involves a little trash talking.


 My Family take 2.
And of course, we are most thankful for family, even though they will likely hate these photos.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Candy Corn Witch.

Ready for Halloween.

Lauren didn't dress up for Halloween this year, so someone had to suffer in her place.


Chin up, Cookie - it could have been worse. The pet store also had a unicorn and a taco costume on sale.

Is someone going to answer?

Yes, I hope this house has Reese's Cups too. They're the best!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's Halloween!

Happy Halloween 2015

The jack o'lanterns were carved with care in hopes that The Great Pumpkin soon would be there! Lauren carved the one on right of the cat sitting in a window, which she did all by herself. Mine is the mustache on the left, and Mark's is the evil one in the middle.

I was asked last weekend if I was ever going to update the blog again. I thought that it was an odd question since I did make at least one post last month, but I didn't realize that the post was made at the beginning of September, which means I haven't updated in almost two months. Yikes.

So I've dusted off the cobwebs and decided to give the blog some love. Since it hadn't been changed in over a year, it was about time for a new banner, and who better to star in it than Poppy and Blossom. Sadly, sister Pepsi died in a freak accident earlier this month where we think she got scared and somehow broke her neck by flying into the coop wall. Mark is already on the hunt for a new member to fill the void in the chicken family.

 Irons Mill 

Speaking of chickens, earlier this month we visited Irons Mill Farmstead.
What does this have to do with chickens (Besides the fact that chickens reside on a farm?)? Well, Mark discovered the farm earlier in this year because the owner was selling a log cabin playhouse that would eventually become our chicken coop. The farm is famous for the giant sports themed corn maze that they make every year.

Corn maze.

We gave it a good go, but we didn't make it through the whole maze. After awhile, corn as far as the eye can see gets a little boring.

Apple slingshot.

That's not to say that we were bored because there were lots of other fun things to do. Here's Lauren trying out the giant apple slingshot.

Pumpkin checkers.

And there were pumpkin checkers to play.

Buried in corn.

Continuing the corn theme, they had this giant sandbox, which I guess you would call a cornbox, where kids and adults could play and get corn stuck in their pants and down their shirts.

She's just about as tall as me.

Mark wanted to demonstrate that Lauren is almost as tall as me now. And I got a haircut too.


They have this really lovely barn on the property that you can rent for weddings. We'll have to keep that in mind in about fifteen years or so.

Lauren and Dad.

My little fam.

Father / daughter moment.

And we'll end with a bunch of cute pictures of Mark and Lauren at the top of the haystack pile. Now that the holiday months are here, I'm sure I'll have more blog material. In fact, I think I'll start off November tomorrow with some photos that I shot last week of the ever adorable Cookie.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Goodbye, summer.

On the porch.

Although the autumnal equinox isn't until mid-September, Labor Day is typically considered the end of summer, so it's only appropriate that we bid a fond farewell to long sunny days, pool trips and ice cream runs with a look back at our vacation.

In mid-August, we traveled once again to northern Michigan to visit with our cousins, Nick and Noreen.

It's nice having Lake Michigan all to oneself.

By a long shot, Lauren's favorite part of the trip was swimming. Noreen took us to beaches on both Torch Lake and Lake Michigan. Doesn't it look like Lauren has Lake Michigan all to herself? The water was so blue and clear - it was definitely a big step up from the northern Atlantic coast beaches that we've visited in the past!



Lauren hasn't done much natural water swimming in her lifetime, but as you can see, she took to it right away.

Relaxing with Dad.

Hunting for seashells.

I don't know how she did it, but she kept finding these teeny-tiny seashells on the lake bed. We took home a whole collection of them.

As we were sitting there enjoying the day, I was lamenting that I have only one photo of Lauren playing in the sand and building sandcastles when she was little. And then this happened:


Making sandcastles.

Later in the day, we traveled a few towns over to attend the Bellaire Rubber Ducky Festival.

Bellaire, MI Rubber Ducky Festival.


Ducks on a truck.

The town had a big rubber duck themed parade followed by the crown jewel of the event - the rubber duck race!

Dump the ducks!

Once the backhoe made it's way to the bridge, the operator kept teasing the crowd by dipping the bucket and then pulling it back, which then incited everyone to start chanting "Dump the ducks!" over and over again.

And their off!

And there they go! I think the winning duck got the purchaser a few of hundred ducks, I mean, *bucks.*

Ferry to Mackinac Island.

The next day, we took a ferry ride to visit Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island.

Horsedrawn carriage.

Walking the streets of Mackinac Island.

There are no motor vehicles permitted on the island, so the only modes of transportation are horse drawn carriage or bicycle. There were bikes everywhere!

Mackinac Bridge.

There's Mackinac Bridge looking very small in the distance.

Light houses.

And here behind the seagull you can see the two lighthouses near the island.

Grand dames.

Mackinac Island is famous for it's gorgeous Victorian architecture.


This was the entrance of a private residence called "Boardwalk Cottage." It was right on the beach.


After dinner each evening, we'd go for a walk and explore Nick and Noreen's beautiful property (and for me, take a lot of photos).

Look up.

Fields of gold.

On the run.

Lauren always likes to run way ahead of us old folk.

On the way home, we decided to stay a night in Toledo, Ohio and then head to Cedar Point the next day.

 Toledo Zoo aquarium.

The Toledo Zoo was recently ranked as the #1 zoo in the U.S., and although there was a little bit of ballot stuffing on the behalf of the Toledoans during the vote, it is indeed a great zoo. Earlier this year, they added a brand new aquarium which has dozens of huge tanks full of sea life.

Toledo Zoo - Polar bear exhibit.

 Howdy hippo.

Both their polar bear and hippo exhibits got you right up close to the action.

 Hippo fight!

Okay, maybe a little too close - hippo fight!

 Stalking the elephant.

 Yes elephant, I am stalking you.


And I don't think anything could surpass their gift shop. Ten year old girl problems...

 Fifth Third Field, Home of the Toledo Mud Hens.

We had originally planned to take in a Toledo Mud Hens game (the Detroit Tigers minor league team and home town team of M*A*S*H's Max Klinger), but we got delayed by some traffic coming into Toledo which then set us behind schedule. So instead, we decided to just drive into the city to check out the field and shop in the official store, The Swamp Shop.

 Mud Hens in neon.


The are several manholes surrounding the field, and each has a different Mud Hens graphic.

 Mud Hens unis.

We loved The Swamp Shop. Mark and I each got a t-shirt and Lauren got a duck bill whistle!

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to share from our Cedar Point trip, so instead I will end with some family photos.

 Me and Mark.

Family portrait.


Many thanks to Nick and Noreen for ending our summer on such an awesome note! Now we just have to see Michigan in spring and winter (Okay, maybe not