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Friday, August 26, 2016

Happy National Dog Day!

Happy National Dog Day from Marcus Aurelius!

Since we celebrated International Cat Day, it's only fair that we take part in National Dog Day!

You are gonna give a treat for this, right?

Am I going to get a treat for doing this?

Mr. Personality.

I *am* going to get a treat for this!

Fuzzy fur feet.

Fuzzy fur feet!

Happy National Dog Day from Cookie!

Since Cookie was less than enthused about partaking in National Dog Day, I was only able to get one good photo of her. She acts more like a cat, so maybe I caught her on the wrong day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Six things about the first day of 6th grade.

Off to 6th grade!

  • Woke up around 6:30.
  • Packed a lunch made up of a ham and cheese sandwich, Combos and yogurt.
  • First year with a male homeroom teacher. Don't know much about him yet accept that he wore a Taco Bell hat to school one day last year. That's how you make an impression with elementary kids.
  • Found out that she really needs 3 small cheap binders instead of the huge expensive one that we purchased (The school supplies list that we consulted list did not specify)
  • Friends are present and accounted for in each class
  • Afternoon bus drop-off was actually early and accurate. In other words, the bus driver didn't drive past her stop, and she wasn't the last kid on the bus for once.

Must check on the fish first.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Treasure hunting.


Last Thursday, we visited Living Treasures Animal Park for the first time. They have two locations - one in the Laurel Highlands and the one that we visited, which is in Moraine. I've seen their billboards over and over again as we've traveled the PA turnpike in both directions, but I never considered actually going there, even after we had Lauren. I guess I thought it was just a cheesy little roadside attraction, but it wasn't that at all, far from it! In fact, I'd even say it was much better than most of the zoos that we've visited!


What makes it so special is that you can actually feed and directly interact with most of the animals. You can't tell from this photo, but this pen is filled with a variety of hungry deer. They move from one person to the next in hopes that you'll give them a treat. The park provides bags of carrots and feed that you can purchase as you come through the gate. There are also vending machines throughout the park that contain speciality feed.

Hanging around.

For example, this gibbon was really hoping I was going lend him a quarter so he could get something out of the "monkey ball" machine.

Chilean flamingos.

When you enter the park, you're greeted by a pond filled with flamingos. I've seen a lot of flamingos before, but I never noticed that they have pink feet! I guess because I've never been close enough to get a good look at them.

Feeding the Scottish Highlander.

Here's Mark demonstrating the proper form for feeding a Scottish Highlander.

So sleepy leopard.

Now obviously you can't interact with the wild cats. There's no amount of insurance to cover that kind of liability.

White Bengal Tiger.

This white tiger's name is Peppermint. He had a Bengal tiger friend named Kit Kat who passed away this January.

I can almost taste it!

Of all the animals that you can feed, the highlight of the whole park has to be the giraffes. Check out that weird tongue!

Tasty lettuce.

She ate it!

Gentle giant.

It's just like patting dad on the head. He's almost as tall!

Goat love.

They have a large fenced in area just brimming with goats.

The mob.

Remember that time when Mark was overtaken by baby goats? Yep, it was awesome.

Can we keep her?

Here's Lauren with her favorite little goat of the bunch.

Is there anything cuter?

Even though she was only partially white, I'd definitely consider her for membership into my white pet club because she was just too cute.

Kangaroos are sleepy even when they eat.

Next was the kangaroos. The one thing that I learned about kangaroos is that they are very sleepy animals. Even as Lauren was feeding them carrots, they looked extremely drowsy.

Holding a baby kangaroo? WINNING.

And holding a baby kangaroo? WINNING! Again, this joey was so very sleepy - he could barely hold his eyes open for the photo! The babies are kept inside their fabric sacks which are actually hung along the wall of the photo booth. They seem pretty content to literally hang out inside their purses, but if I was a baby kangaroo, I'd request the Kate Spade version.


If I had a favorite buffalo, it was would have to be this white bison. She just had the sweetest face. Her name was either Bubbles or Bonnie, but I think she looks more like a Blondie.

White Bison.

She definitely wanted to go home with me. 

Doin' the Watusi!

Now we get to do the Watusi! This is Walter. He was hanging out under the bridge and then very slowly made his way over to the fence. I have this progression of photos where he gets a little closer in each one - lol.

Mighty hungry Muntjac.

Lastly, we conclude with this mighty hungry little muntjac. We all agreed that this is what Cookie would look like if she was muntjac and not an Italian Greyhound. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Summer vibes.

Summer vibes.

Keeping with the fruit theme for August, this week I made a little sketch of a very cool pineapple. Pineapples are my favorite fruit, and I especially love a good pineapple sundae. 

Sewed succulents.

Since I've taken on many other hobbies, embroidery has fallen by the wayside, but lately I've been thinking of getting back to it. I could maybe sketch a drawing or brush letter on fabric instead of on paper and then embroider it. However, I know I should avoid taking on too big of a project because I'll likely lose interest and not finish it. 

I had a little free time this week, and when I saw these cute little embroidered succulents in Mollie Makes magazine, I knew that they were just the right project to get me back in the embroidering groove. I added magnets on the back, so they're practical too. They'll match my gray fabric covered office perfectly, and I won't even have to water them - lol. 

A fairly good time.

Purple carousel.

Earlier this week, we took a trip to the Lawrence County Fair.
Typically we go to the Westmoreland County Fair (which actually starts this week as well), but I thought it would fun to check out a different one for a change. Plus, I just love to see all of the animals and displays. Oh, and then there is the unmistakable smell of greasy fried food intermingled with eau d'barn that is unique to a county fair. That's good too.

Vintage John Deer tractors.

Like at Zoar, they had a display of antique tractors, although instead of about ten tractors, they had at least a hundred of them. There were literally rows and rows of vintage John Deer's!

Truth in advertising.

You can always find some unique souvenirs at every county fair. This vendor obviously believes in truth in advertising.

Cows being cows.

In general, there seemed to be a lot more livestock on display at this fair. There were at least 5 stables worth of cows alone.

Milking Parlor Rd.

I wanted to take a photo of the actual milking parlor, but a cow was being milked at the time. I didn't want to invade her privacy.

Hanging out at the corral.

The equestrian clubs had many horses on display as well.

Take me home.

Sweet lambs.

Just a few cute faces vying for membership in my white pet club. Sorry kids - not open to new members at the moment.

Ready for show.

On the day that we visited, everyone was getting their sheep ready for show. It's always funny to see them wearing their spandex sox in multiple colors and patterns. The spandex keeps them clean, but a little tummy control doesn't hurt either.

Bo and Luke.

All the livestock have their stalls decorated and their names displayed. Bo and Luke the sheep reminded me of the Dukes of Hazzard phase that I went through when I was eight. At first I was on Team Bo, but I later defected to Team Luke.

Soft serve.

My favorite part of any county fair are the marquees on the refreshment stands and the rides!

Fun Slide.



While the Lawrence County Fair offered a lot for a fair goer, there was one important omission. Chickens! For some reason, there were no poultry displays. So just on that criteria alone (Okay, that and the fact that it was the location of one of our first dates), the Westmoreland County Fair still stands as my favorite.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fun with blueberries.

Blueberry zucchini cake with lemon frosting.

Had we not chosen to celebrate International Cat Day, this would have been yesterday's post. I've been meaning to try this recipe for  Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream, and I finally gathered all the ingredients to make it this past weekend. In my opinion, any time you make a cake from scratch and don't screw it up is a cause for celebration. Actually, not only did I not screw it up, it turned out pretty good. I don't know if I'd call it "amazing," but I do find it amazing how the zucchini virtually leaves no trace in the cake. I mean, I didn't even peel the zucchini, so where did all that green stuff go? And the seeds too? I tried to search for the science behind this, but I came up empty. Chalk it up to another of the universe's mysteries.

Also, don't let the fact that this cake contains both fruit and vegetables deceive you. This is one hell of an unhealthy cake. The cake contains full cup of oil, 3 eggs, and over 2 cups of sugar, while the icing contains 2 sticks of butter and 4 more cups of sugar. I feel so guilty when I think about, but then I just keep eating it anyway.
They all turn into blueberries.

Since I had blueberries on my mind, I was inspired to make a little blueberry sketch in my journal. I needed a quote to go with it, but I didn't want to go with the obvious Fats Domino reference. Quotes about blueberries are few and far between, and I was about to give up until I found this perfect bit from Willy Wonka. Aside from the girl turning into a giant blueberry, that scene will always be the most memorable to me because I've always wondered what it would be like to chew gum flavored like a roast beef and baked potato dinner!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Happy International Cat Day from Kitty Coconut!

Happy International Cat Day from Kitty Coconut

This isn't what I had planned to write about, but when I found out at around 7:00 P.M. that today is International Cat Day, I had to take some photos of Kitty Coconut. This was going to be a challenge because it was already too dark inside the house, and Kitty Coco is an indoor cat.

Kitty Coco will do anything for treats, so I thought I could lure her into looking out an open window. She was very actively trying to get the treat on the windowsill, so this is the closest I could get to the shot I wanted. The focus is a little softer than I like, but oh well.

I'm going to get it!

Most of my shots were like this one. That look of intensity is priceless! Of course, this shot is in sharp focus. That's the way it usually goes.

By the way, *National* Cat Day is sometime in October (I looked it up.).

In completely unrelated news, I had to retire my beloved eggplant shaped cutting board because there seemed to be something mysterious growing on it that wouldn't come off, and I didn't want to take any chances. It was several years old and had seen lots of use. I was sad as I tossed it in the trash because I had used it to prepare so many everyday and holiday meals! I'm going to replace it with a new one, and maybe get a tomato or a chili pepper so it has a friend.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The zillionth visit to Zoar.

Barn hex.

Okay, so I may be exaggerating that this was our zillionth visit to the Zoar, Ohio Harvest Festival, but I know we've been going for the last seven years. I'm not sure we've gone every year though. The last time I posted photos of our visit was in 2013. I'm pretty certain we went last year. If I recall correctly, we neglected to check the weather forecast in Ohio, and it poured the whole time we were there. In any case, every time we visit, things are the same and yet they change. Like this year, they moved the parking area to a completely different location, so this was the first time I'd seen this barn and its hex star.

House #21.

All of the historic homes in Zoar are labeled and numbered. If you recall, a few years ago Zoar was endangered of becoming extinct due to a leaky levee, but some lobbyists came to the rescue saved the town.

Chairs for sale.

The reason we go to Zoar each year is because of it's antique show, but homes throughout the village get into the act too and sell antiques and vintage items in their yards.

Mark hanging out on Main Street.

Here's Mark sitting on Main Street. Lauren was sitting next to him, but she ran for it as soon as she noticed that I was taking a photo. That's how it goes these days.

Ford tough.

Every year they have a display of antique tractors. Its location seems to move around the town, but I think the tractors are the same.

Hanging hats.

The buildings also have displays with items from the period when Zoar was founded. Next year, they'll be celebrating their bicentennial!

Giant hybiscus.

One of the best parts of Zoar is the gardens and garden house. The hibiscuses are huge!

Cone flowers.


Some day soon, I'll post photos from our vacation to Williamsburg. Mark described Williamsburg as bigger version of Zoar, so consider this a preview!