Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wrapping it up with style, Part 1

Making our own wrapping paper has been an annual event in my family for as long as I can remember. It's a beautiful and fun way to personalize our gifts to each other and add some variety under the tree.

Mama-la-la would haul down the roll of butcher paper as my sister and I brainstormed and sketched designs to painstakingly carve into potato stamps - simple silhouettes of trees, stars, and bells.

The designs got more intricate each year, eventually including a striped candy cane, skis & boots, mittens, a scarf, and even a 2-piece stamp of a present wrapped with a bow.

Mama-la-la gets high-class with it, breaking out her stenciling skills. Personally, I stick with the classic potato stamps.

-big potatoes
-sharp little knife
-paint and trays
-big paper

-Draw your design with a pencil before carving it out with the knife.
-Cut a handle into the back. I learned from experience that this is a BIG help when it comes to stamping.
-Cover the stamp with paint, trim any high spots.
-PRACTICE on an extra sheet of paper. Potato + paint = slippery = smudgy prints

My 2009 Collection:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spread the love, simply

One of the most simple gift ideas that I so often forget? Plants!

I have a very enthusiastic aloe plant on my sunny kitchen window sill that has been split, re-potted, and shared many times as a farewell gift, housewarming, thank-you, etc. Houseplants have all kinds of benefits, and aloe is great to keep in the kitchen for burns. It benefits my plant too, which has a habit of growing too big for its pot.

You can go fancy, purchasing a new pot or painting a custom container for it, or more casual if the recipient is a bit of a green thumb and able to re-pot it themselves. It only took a short time for me to re-pot a piece for my roommate's darling girlfriend, and it even looks sufficiently festive with the bright green spikes and red bow!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This calls for a celebration!!

October has become a pretty significant month for me. This year is the 3rd anniversary of my move to Burlington. It's also 6 months out from my ACL surgery! But most important, this past Friday, Oct 16, was Roger's 3rd birthday!! We celebrated the day with extra walks, belly rubs, and cookies.

But the real celebration was on Saturday night: we had a party, complete with good friends and delicious PUPCAKES!!
We got the recipe from our good friend Shawnee's blog.

  • 1 large apple, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheese
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 oz. low fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 375 degrees; grease muffin tins.
In a large bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, baking powder and baking soda together.

In a medium bowl, blend the yogurt, water, oil, honey and eggs.

Stir in apple and cheese.
Add to the flour mixture and stir until mixed.

Spoon into muffin tins, filling each cup about three quarters full.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

For the frosting, combine cream cheese (at room temperature), honey and yogurt until smooth.
Spread on cooled pupcakes.

I tried to get a picture of him eating one, but he was too fast - this gray blur is all I was able to capture!! I'm not ashamed to admit I tried one myself - a little plain, but with the frosting, they're really good!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

For these boys, I would swim across the ocean

Last weekend, Roger and I went to my parents' house in NH for a few days. It was a jam-packed weekend full of my favorite people! We celebrated my mom's birthday, I sold at the craft fair at Alumni Hall, and I got to see all my babes!

We arrived Thursday night, and Dad had a surprise for Roger & me - a snazzy new dog bed! It's to keep at their house, for when we're visiting so I don't have to haul his grungy blue bed back and forth. The top is fleecy, and Roger loved it immediately! Plus, it's zebra-striped, and Roger is really digging animal prints this season.

Friday morning we visited my best friend Jessica and my godson, Roger's cousin, Haiden. Is he not the cutest little guy you've ever SEEN?!? He's two and a half now, I can't believe how fast the time has gone! I absolutely love watching him grow up into his own little person. Seeing a shy smile of recognition creep across his face when I arrive is the coolest thing ever. He is so great with Roger, and Roger is very careful and protective of him. I just know Haiden is going to be an amazing big brother when Jess & Shane's new bundle of joy arrives next spring.

Friday evening after Dad got home from work, he and Roger and I headed down to the Bedell Bridge State Park. There are several big open corn fields, broken up by some wetland marshy areas. This is The Big Fun for Roger, just wide open spaces where he can run around and explore all the new smells. Poor little city dog doesn't get to do that in Burlington!

Since it is currently a hunting season (residential water fowl maybe?) we were all decked out in our don't-hunt-me orange, and Roger was no exception - safety first! Dad got this for him last Fall, and although he wiggles around while I try to adjust the velcro straps, he wears it very nicely once it's on. Every pup and their people should have some orange garb for outings around this time of year.

Later that night we celebrated Mom's 63rd birthday with my seasonally-appropriate specialty, apple crisp a la mode! I also presented her with an Ithaca Farmer's Market tote bag, and a stack of stickers from the closing sale at Scribbles.

Saturday morning Mom & I headed to Alumni Hall for the day to sell at the crafts fair. I've been working on my inventory of birds, knobs, garden tags, switch plates, and puzzle piece brooches for the past several weeks, and came up with some great display methods. Meg even sent a supply of her bird and tree ornaments, which I just love! Unfortunately, it rained all day so the crowd was pretty thin but I managed to make several sales including a custom order of knobs!

Luckily, I had several fun visitors! Jessica stopped by after her morning class, and we took a lap around the craft fair together. Erin and Ryan, my favorite newly-engaged couple, brought baby Mason to visit and do a little shopping. Mason, who is now 8 months old, happily bounced around on my hip for a while, and tried to nom my necklace - darling! His grandpa bought one of my birds for him, which Mason promptly tasted, then dropped into his stroller for later. Yum!

While I was selling my crazy crafts for the day, the poor Little Sir was left behind, all alone! Psh, hardly all alone - he spent the day with his Grandpa! Of course he whined and cried when I left, and then somehow managed to gnaw on a marrow bone and cry at the same time - I mean, it's bordering on neglect, the way that dog is treated! Later he got to take a ride in Grandpa's big gray truck for a field trip to Patten's Sporting Goods, where he got a don't-hunt-me orange bandanna, which he looks adorable in.

Shortly after the crafts fair wrapped up at 4pm, we packed up the car and headed back to Burlington in time for the Hot Buttered Rum show, by far my favorite band. This is the 3rd time I've seen them at Higher Ground, and it was definitely lots of fun. However, they've added a drummer, and some of their new stuff has more of a rock sound. Which is great...but not what you want from your favorite bluegrass band! I did buy the new album, Limbs Akimbo, and I love it.

I am currently searching for another small craft fair or two to sell at this fall, so please pass along any you know of in my area. Unfortunately, the big ones here in Burlington are hundreds of dollars for a table, which is way out of proportion to the cost of what I sell. If I can't find a fair to sell at, I'll post everything to my etsy account. Also, if any of you would like custom orders, let me know!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Okay, readers! I need your opinions. I'm working on my 2009 Collection (ha ha) for the October 3rd craft fair at Alumni Hall in Haverhill, NH. These are 1-1/4" porcelain knobs. My questions:
  • Do you prefer the green fill-in, or leaving it white?
  • Do you prefer the yellow centers, or should I leave them off?
I know the pics are pretty blurry, but you get the gist. I would appreciate as many opinions as possible. Thanks!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our Hike With Shawnee!

Today Roger & I went to southern Vermont to hike with @ShawneeShep and her mom Daniela. It was the perfect autumn day for a hike!

We met up at the Winhall Brook Campground in South Londonderry, VT, then all piled into my car and drove to the Jamaica State Park. We hiked the 12+ miles back up to the campground, with trail detours for an overlook and a waterfall! Along the way, our four-legged amigos found plenty of mud to play in, and water to splash around in.

Here are our beautiful happy pups at an overlook, enjoying the view and a quick cookie.

For most of the hike, the trail ran along next to a river, and there were several spots where they got to jump in! (Which also meant plenty of clean running water - real athletes know the importance of staying hydrated!) There was even a waterfall with great wading pools at the bottom. Here's Roger, doing his classic "fuzzy log" impression.
If snapping a photo of one moving dog is tough, imagine trying to get two! Let's just call this one an action shot.
Closer to the end of the hike was another smaller waterfall and pool, and the pups got another well-earned swim!
Shawnee & Daniela are very impressive hikers, Shawnee kept up her steady pace the whole day. Roger, on the other hand, was completely worn out before 10 miles, and spent the last 2 only a few feet in front of me.
Both dogs were more than willing to sack out in Daniela's back seat on the way back to my car!
Check out more great pictures from our day in Shawnee's blog, too! Shawnee & Daniela, thank you so much for making the trip up to Vermont, we had a wonderful day with you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventures in Hiking

After a wonderful weekend celebrating Dan Silver's birthday at Camp Silver in New Paltz, NY, Roger and I decided to sneak in a little hike before driving back to Vermont. Just a few miles from our beautiful camp site was Minnewaska State Park!

The trail winds around and above Lake Minnewaska, which on this day was shrouded in fog. There weren't many other people on the trail, and most of the time we couldn't hear anything or anyone else at all. The views were wonderful and calm above the fog, and even though we were up really high, the hike was never too strenuous.
Even though Roger had to stay on his leash the whole time, he did get to splash around in the lake and seemed to love standing on the edges of the cliffs. I knew there was a reason I call him BraveDog!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This is why I'm hot

...and why my house smells like burning! I try to branch out, try something new, and look what it gets me - half a loaf of charred bread, and a kitchen full of smoke.

Earlier this week, the Burlington Women for Change held a wonderfully in-season strawberry pot-luck dinner meet-up! I waited until the last minute to see what other people would bring, in the hopes of contributing something original, and balance out the table. By the time I got around to picking a dish, there was already chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry rhubarb pie, spinach & strawberry salad, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry margaritas on the menu. Yum!

Close friends and frequent guests of mine know that I love baking and cooking, but only from an established list of items. I have no problem experimenting when it's just for me, but when it comes to subjecting others to my cooking, I like to know I can deliver. Peanut butter cookies...banana bread...quesadillas...deviled eggs...bruschetta - BRUSCHETTA!! Is there such a thing as strawberry bruschetta?! To the internet!!

Turns out there are several different dishes that go by that name. Now to pick one that fits my time frame, budget, and skill set. And the winner is:

Strawberry Bruschetta (

  • 24 slices French baguette
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, or as needed
  • Preheat your oven's broiler. Spread a thin layer of butter on each slice of bread. Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  • Place bread under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, just until lightly toasted. Spoon some chopped strawberries onto each piece of toast, then sprinkle sugar over the strawberries.
  • Place under the broiler again until sugar is caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Seems simple enough, doesn't it? That's what I thought, too. Having made tomato basil bruschetta many times before, I was confident that I could pull it off.

And then the burning started. Ohh, the burning!

I was able to salvage the pieces from the edges of the baking sheet, but at least half of the loaf was a lost cause. Luckily I had regular sourdough bread, which I quickly threw under the broiler (and of course UNDER-toasted).

I spooned the sliced berries on top and sprinkled with sugar. Out of fear of ruining the entire project, I didn't leave it in long enough to carmelize the sugar. Plus I had to pick up a fellow group member so the sheet got to sit in traffic with me for a half hour. Basically it was served as slightly soggy toast with whole fruit and sugar! Perhaps not fancy enough to earn the name bruschetta, but at least it was tasty and well-received!

Coming up on the Women for Change calendar, I'm hosting a discussion of Gloria Steinem's recent local speaking engagement, and the media coverage that followed. And later in August, Bridgette will teach us her favorite German board games - much more strategy and collaboration than the games I grew up with!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

(Wordless Wednesday is inspired by Buzz and his Food Lady)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

HSCC's Walk for the Animals

Last Sunday, Roger and I participated in the 15th annual Walk for the Animals! It's the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Humane Society of Chittenden County, which is the shelter where Roger and I found each other.

The weather was perfect! Sunny and 60's in Battery Park. We arrived at about 10:15am to find the park already packed with dogs and their people checking out the booths of sponsoring vendors. We found the registration tables and took our place in line. That might have been the toughest part of the day - waiting our turn near so many other dogs, but not being able to play! At last it was our turn. Since we raised over $100, I received a t-shirt and a ticket for a free lunch!

With registration successfully completed, Roger and I headed over to one of the several tents set up around the park for shade. I didn't wear nearly enough sun block, and silly Roger was wearing fur! There were also sponsored water bowls scattered about - not that Roger would drink from a communal bowl, but it was a great idea.

A few minutes after 11am, the crowds formed a line on the path and started the march down to the waterfront and back. Roger refused to start walking until Erin was with us. Erin has been at the shelter since I started as a volunteer, first as canine coordinator and now shelter supervisor. Roger has always loved her - she's one of the few people for whom he willingly leaves my side. Throughout the walk he insisted on being near her! I hope she found it cute and not obnoxious...

On the way back up the hill, there was a deep fountain, and several of the big dogs took the opportunity to take a quick dip to cool off. At first Roger was hesitant, since the water was too deep to step into one foot at a time, but with some gentle nudges from Erin and me, he finally landed in with a splash and a smile.

After that, at last it was time for food! Upon re-entering Battery Park, volunteers were handing out big huge dog cookies on strings (I think they were from PupCat Bakery). We got in line and received our free lunch. I got a veggie burger with cheese, the former of which I shared with the Little Sir.

We took some time to wander around to the different vendors' tents. There was of course Pet Food Warehouse, which is just about Roger's favorite place in the world. We spoke with a woman from Pet Naturals of Vermont, and got a free sample pouch of their Daily Best soft chew vitamin supplements, which Roger absolutely loves.

Of course no event in Vermont would be complete without Ben & Jerry's! There were volunteers dishing it out, and Roger even got his own cup!

It's good to be a dog in Vermont :-)

Roger and I raised $227, and we couldn't have done it without the help of our wonderful Twitter anipals and friends! @SidTheCatahoula, @ruthiegelber, @jessiea, @SylvieDog, @MugsyDog, @coldnosephoto, @actionjackson95, as well as our non-Twitter donors, Amanda, Lesa, Jenny & Reuben, Erin Ryan & Mason, Jess Shane & Haiden, and my parents. THANK YOU so much for your donations and support!

Overall, the event raised over $52,000! HSCC is such a wonderful shelter, run by an amazing group of people. We were so happy to be a part of this event. If you didn't get a chance to donate before the event but would still like to support the HSCC, our fundraising page is still open!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BraveDog and the Three Daycares

Throughout our first year together, I've striven to provide Roger with the best care possible. At times, that means long morning runs, lunch hour walks, and evening trips to the dog park. At other times, that has meant bringing him to doggie daycare. Currently we are on our third daycare, and I'd like to share our trials. This story is a very Goldilocksian experience.

The first one was affordable, but dirty and unloving. The second was lovely and clean, but too spendy and far away for everyday use. The third one is airy and bright, and they quickly knew Roger by name. Juuust right!

I used to work two blocks from home, so I was able to come home at lunch to take Roger for a walk. I never thought I would need a doggie daycare. However, then our downstairs neighbor complained about Roger's separation crying in the mornings when I left for work. And so the search began.

Gulliver's Doggie Daycare The first one was affordable, but dirty and unloving.
I chose Gulliver's because it was the most affordable at $15/day. I tried to get a tour, but was denied. They scoffed at my statement that Roger has a crate aversion. At pick-up time, the staff assured me he had a great day, with no further details. Even though my gut told me it was not a wonderful place, I rationalized that Roger was an easy-going dog, and maybe he didn't care if the staff was gruff and abrasive. The third morning I brought him, Roger resisted getting out of the car. Normally an enthusiastic participant, I took his reluctance very seriously. I did leave him there for the day, but drove away with tears in my eyes promising it was the last time ever.

The Crate Escape The second was lovely and clean but too spendy and far away for everyday use.
In the winter I work as a ski instructor on the weekends at a mountain several towns away. That means early departure, uncertain return time, and clearly no lunch hour walk. The Crate Escape is basically at the base of the mountain, and has a wonderful reputation in the area. Although not thrilled with being left behind, once I was out of sight Roger settled in and played hard all day. I bought a ten-day punch card that worked out to $19/day. That was a great reintroduction to daycare because there were fewer dogs on Saturdays, so he was able to have interaction with the staff, and chill at the front desk when overwhelmed. I blew out my knee at the end of February, thus ending my mountain job for the season, and his weekly daycare.

A couple months ago, I had knee surgery. Since then, Roger has taken his guard dog duties very seriously, including keeping guests off the couch and away from me. He also refused to go on regular walks with other people - apparently he has a strong aversion to being stolen. I tried taking him to the dog park, but he was too busy protecting me from the other dogs to play. I realized Roger needed a break from being my BraveDog, somewhere he could just play and run and tire himself out, without keeping an eye on me.

Play Dog Play The third one is airy and bright, and they quickly knew Roger by name. Juuust right!
I decided to check out the new kid in town, Play Dog Play. I was immediately impressed with their bright clean lobby and observation window overlooking the playroom. We did a half-day as a trial, most of which I spent watching him from home on the web cams. When I picked him up, the staff was able to give a full report on how he spent his afternoon, and was truthful in telling me he cried and moped a bit in the beginning before joining in the play. I purchased a 10 half-day punch card, coming to $14.40/day.

Roger has attended two more afternoons since then, and seems to really like it! With only the slightest pause, he trots into the playroom leaving me grinning proudly in the lobby. I watch him on the web cams, and see him happily jogging around with a pack of equally happy dogs and an ever-present chaperon. Staff members easily recognized him at the HSCC Walk on Sunday, and he was happy to greet them.

Since Play Dog Play is still relatively new in town, they have not yet reached capacity. That means currently no reservations are needed for daycare, but they seem to be growing quickly. And given the high caliber of care, I'm sure they'll be full soon. Go NOW and do your entrance interview, Burlington dogs!!
From the Play Dog Play photo gallery - my boy is SO handsome.

***UPDATE: Roger now attends at least one full day a week, and loves it as much as ever.  As predicted, PDP is almost always at capacity, so advance reservations are a must!  We have a standing reservation for our day, and there is no cancellation fee, unlike other daycares in the area. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Whew, close one! You almost got me, internet!

As you may know, I've started the search for a roommate for the fall. I've been inspired by That Girl's ongoing series, "My Myspace Man," to share some of the ridiculous spam I get in response to my Craigslist post. Here's the latest, titled "Message you left":

Good day. Lonely girl is waiting! :(
My personal email is
His lawyer calls him "intellectually challenged. Ooh one more night, cos i can't wait forever. in Newburgh where the conspirators gathered, according to a criminal complaint. Give me one more night, give me just one more night. Shiho Fukada for The New York Times.

This string of nonsense is a lot different from past spam messages, which have include a long story written by an ideal-sounding tenant about how he won't be in the country until the move-in date but he needs me to go pick up his big screen TV. All he needs from me is a bank account number he can confirm - for his own security, of course.

Another email came from a woman who described her profession as follows: Am a medical humanitarian nurse, have been doing this for the past 8 years back, our work is to take care of motherless babies, homeless one and all of that...

How could I pass up living with such a compassionate person...and all of that? The weird thing about this one was that it didn't request anything of me. What's the point? I suppose if I had responded they would have my real email address. But is this really the most efficient way to collect information? I highly doubt it. Ah well, internet scammers, who am I to doubt you? Clearly you're getting something from it, or you would have stopped by now!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lou Makes Things!

Lately I've been getting impatient with my physical limitations. Combined with the nice weather this week, and I'm downright antsy. Prime time for a new project!

Last night I was perusing the DIY section of Design*Sponge when I found this great project! At first I decided it would be a project for another time since I don't need any "key hooks" but then realized they would be perfect for hanging my light-but-bulky necklaces, a challenge I've been trying to solve for some time now!

I found the unfinished wooden squares at Michael's (only $0.59 each!), and the hooks were in the framing section. I always have paint kicking around from past projects. I thought I had some extra silverware I could re-purpose, but decided the handles were just too plain for this. I checked out Recycle North and was surprised to find they had only ONE spoon in the entire kitchen section!! The trip was redeemed, though, when I found a fork that matched the spoon. I picked another fancy fork, and headed home with my treasures.

I set up shop on my sunny porch - with the Little Sir closely supervising - and put a couple coats of paint on the squares. While the paint dried, I tossed the utensils into a pot of boiling water to soften and bend. I had hoped to get more of a curve into the bend, but at last reached results I was happy with.

I finally gave up trying to keep dog hairs out of the paint job (ahem, Roger) and attached the hooks to the back. The hardest part, by far, has been affixing the silverware to the squares! Gorilla Glue stays slippery for a while before it sets, so I had to come up with creative ways to keep the odd shapes firmly weighted in place. Rubber bands, canned goods, rolled-up paper towel, and everything else within arm's length finally yielded results.

So far, I'm very pleased with my efforts! If anyone is interested in a spoon hook of their own, just let me know and I'd be happy to oblige.