the hunter-gatherer

my husband is quite the culinary provider; not only is jim an accomplished hunter of deer, goose, and duck, he has branched out into foraging.
he was in the woods working on building camp's new tandem zipline, when he spotted two big morel mushrooms growing.

morels are delicious. i'd never had them before last year, when a friend of ours generously gifted us with several he'd discovered locally. if you were to buy them in the market, i think they run about 30 bucks a pound, and they're only available for a few weeks in the spring.

i chopped them up, sauteed them in garlic butter, and ate them just like that. jim doesn't even like mushrooms, so i didn't have to share:) you can't beat fresh, delicious, locally grown, organic, and free!

we live at a camp that spans 550 mostly-wooded acres, and i'd like to do some research on foraging. i imagine that there are all sort of nutrient-rich greens that must grow wild in my own backyard, and i think it would be fun to discover.

this post is my contribution to thrifty green thursday and food roots over at nourishing days.


can't get the stink out...'s been hanging 'round for days.

you might not want to read this. there aren't any cute pictures or baby stories--just some general yuckiness. consider yourself warned.

so, yeah. we had this funk in the mudroom. i discovered a wet rag in the hamper, washed all the laundry, baking soda-ed and vacuumed the carpet, and was pretty satisfied that to all but super-sensitized pregnant noses, things were A-OK.

then, at the computer, i smelled the funk wafting in from the powder room, which is adjacent to the mudroom. (is it normal to say "powder room" anymore? should i just call it the "downstairs bathroom"? it doesn't actually have a bath in it, but i don't really powder my nose there either. words are weird.)

anyway, so i baking soda-ed and vacuumed that carpet and again thought the situation was handled.

until jim did some reconnaissance.

i'm glad he did, but i kinda wish he hadn't. cuz knowing is only half the battle, after all.

the real funk is coming from the linen closet, and it is truly a God-awful stink, like a bunch of cats peeed in there and then killed themselves.

except they probably aren't dead cats; they're probably mice. or rat kings.

jim pulled out all the blankets and towels, and he didn't find any nests or anything, which is good, but that means the stink is Something Else. something Hidden and Decaying behind the walls or under the floor.

so we're washing everything and trying to figure out where to store them until the stink subsides. any idea on how long it takes a colony of dead mice to rest in odor-free peace?


goodie bag

i am a sucker for a deal, and if what you're pitching comes with something free, it's not a tough sell.

it's good i don't get out much to go shopping.

just look at all the free goodies that arrived in the mail today! is running two promotions that can overlap: spend $30 in their green/natural store and get the grocery tote full of samples, and spend $30 on burt's bees products and get their hand repair kit free.

ok, so i realize that having earth-friendly items shipped to me from wherever they are warehoused is not exactly, um, green. but, i don't even live in a town with its own drugstore, and i'd need to drive all the way to pittsburgh to get the stuff i can order online (like biokleen's bac-out that we use on dylan's diapers), so i figure it isn't the worst thing when there aren't local options.

plus, check out all that swag! natural and organic samples of snacks, lotions, lip balm, and cleaners. it was like christmas...

for nerds.



saturday was a sunny, lovely day, and we enjoyed it at the living treasures animal park.
dylan got to see some of her favorite animals, and she greeted them by name or sound:

"hi NEIGH! hi MOO! hi HONK! hi DOG! hi BAA! hi DUCK!"

dylan walked around independently and loved being up close to all the action.
now jim is busily back to work, but we all really enjoyed our time off together. dylan loved having her daddy home, and it was great to enjoy laid back days. we went out to eat, took naps, visited playgrounds; it was bliss!

even though the trees are beginning to bud and
flowers are blooming, there is still a definite chill in the air and it's hard to imagine that in a few short weeks, our summer staff will arrive. jim's spring is packed from here out, most notably with building a huge tandem zipline for camp. i know he'd appreciate prayer, especially for good weather so that he can be outside readying camp for all the kids who will be here before we know it.


have a holly, jolly fishmas!

merry fishmas, everyone!

(umm, i didn't really celebrate it either.)

fishmas is the opening day of trout season, and around here, that's cause for celebration. local fishermen spend weeks scouting out the best spots along the stream and creek banks, and then on fishmas eve, impromptu tent cities sprout up everywhere as they prepare for opening day with what is basically a huge tailgate party in the woods.

so, we didn't observe fishmas, but today was a gorgeous, and we did enjoy much time outside. we took dylan to a petting zoo and playground and had so much fun. i promise to post pictures soon!

i hope you, too, are enjoying glorious spring weather, wherever you may be. have a lovely rest of your (fishmas) weekend:)


connection, in an isolating age

we saw RENT last night, and it was fantastic. i was bummed that we were so far away from the stage, even though we paid a small fortune for first tier tickets. (once you've had those $20 second row rush tix, it's hard to go back!) but the minute anthony rapp and adam pascal took the stage, i was captivated, and it was every bit as mesmerizing as before.

i don't know if it was because i'm pregnant and emotional or because i hadn't seen it in years and the movie is just a shadow of the stage production, but it was even more moving than i remember. the music is powerful, and it's hard not to be touched by a story about life and death, purpose, passion, friendship, and love.

it's always a little surreal to feel so much emotion amidst a sea of other people who are sharing the experience. listening to mark and roger singing about community and connection in "what you own" made me remember the fantastic book rob bell wrote called Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality.

one of the results of sin is the disconnect we feel toward one another, God, and the world, and bell argues that the transcendent experiences we have--like being struck by natural wonder or caught up in the intensity of a concert--are essentially sexual, because our sexuality is less about physicality than it is about finding ways to reconnect the broken pieces.

maybe that doesn't make sense apart from the whole, but it's such a worthwhile read. i love how bell articulates a single narrative throughout scripture and uses old testament insight to flesh out meaning in new testament passages. he's one of those writers who is smart and accessible at the same time.

and i just love mark cohen--just look at that nerdy, awkward dance:)

friends (and former students:) of ours from pittsburgh kindly watched dylan for us, and she slept there in her pack and play until we picked her up. it worked out perfectly, because we knew it would be too late for a babysitter at home after making the drive back from downtown.  dylan was pleasant the whole car ride home and went to bed again without a fuss.

our family has thoroughly enjoyed our "staycation" so far, and i'll try to post some pictures of us playing outside as it finally warmed up this afternoon.


how to make your own infused vodka

back in february, we had an oscar party that i never posted about it, because i was lame and didn't take pictures. you'll just have to take my word that much fun was had. for the occasion, i infused vodka for cocktails. of course, i found out i was pregnant that same day, so i didn't get to imbibe, and the pretty pink bottle still lingers in our fridge, taunting me. someday, i won't be pregnant or breastfeeding and can enjoy a drink again!

in the meantime, here is the recipe for this deliciously simple vodka infusion so you, too, can make your own tasty signature drink for parties or gifts.

Cranberry-Orange Vodka (from michael chiarello)

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 oranges, peels cut into 2-inch strips
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka (inexpensive stuff is perfect)

Place cranberries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and stir. Simmer cranberry mixture until the berries burst, about 5 to 6 minutes. (in my experience, this takes a bit longer.)

Place orange peels in a large glass container with an airtight lid or large mason jars with lids. (you can buy a giant mason jar for this purpose at michael's.)

Pour vodka over the orange peels.

Allow the cranberry mixture to cool. Pour the cooled mixture into the glass container. Cover tightly and set aside for 1 week. After 1 week, strain out the cranberries sand orange peels and pour mixture into a clean bottle, using a funnel. (if you strain it a second time through a sieve and a paper towel, it will become totally clear.)

Store vodka in the refrigerator.

To serve: Pour 2 ounces of vodka mixture over ice in a tall glass and top with tonic water. Garnish with a slice of lime. (jim drinks it with orange juice as well.)

we gave a pretty bottle of it as a party favor, and i've also made it for christmas gifts. homemade liqueur--how fun is that? next i'd like to try limoncello or kahlua:)


the empty tomb

this Good Friday i helped the youth at my church host the Journey to the Cross, a 13 station reflection on Holy Week using readings, props, and devotional activities. the kids did such a great job, and it was really powerful. i was thankful that they were willing to let me run with it, especially since our church is pretty traditional and significantly older than the church where i'd staged it before. bellefield was a university church with lots of young people, and st. michael's has far more senior citizens than college students, but people were just as eager to worship and participate in something different.

the library was reimagined as the upper room, where Jesus shared a Passover meal with his disciples on the night before his crucifixion. we transformed a sunday school classroom into Gethsemane with dozens of plants, and participants read about Christ's ordeal there and drank a cup of grape juice, remembering Jesus' willingness to drink the cup and submit to his Father's plan.

in the parish hall, participants reflected on Jesus' trial, death, and burial. some stations had big newsprint tacked to the walls, where people could write prayers and responses. everyone went through at her own pace, and quiet music played in the background. the only other sound was an occasional hammering, at the station where participants could confess a sin on a piece of paper and hammer it into a large wooden cross.

something like this has the potential to be emotionally manipulative, but the writers took care for that not to be the case. the Journey to the Cross is powerful because each station is anchored in Scripture. it creates space for people to be still before the Lord and let the significance of Jesus' sacrifice impact them.

it was cool to see families and couples going through it together, as well as individuals of all ages. jim's parents and my sister tiffany were in town, and i was glad to be able to share it with them. i was thankful to be able to work with the students and to serve the church in this way. hopefully, we'll get a chance to do it again next year--i know it's easier to stage the second time around:)

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matt. 27:45-54)


up on a mountain our LORD is alone

Up on a mountain our LORD is alone
Without a family, friends, or a home
He cries – ohhh, ohhh, ohhh –Will you stay with me?
He cries – ohhh, ohhh, ohhh –Will you wait with me?

Up on a mountain our LORD is afraid
Carrying all the mistakes we have made
And he knew – ohh, ohh, ohh – it’s a long way down
Do you know – ohh, ohhh – he came all the way down

Up in the heavens our LORD prays for you
He sent his Spirit to carry us through
So its true – ohhh, ohhh – that you’re not alone.
--"Up On A Mountain," The Welcome Wagon


april is the cruelest month

it's snowing again, and not just flurries, either--everything's coated and the plows were out. this has been the longest winter i can remember. it's almost easter, for goodness' sake! daffodils just aren't supposed to blanketed in snow.

i think we've only had three nice days this spring. it's really hard to imagine that in a little over six weeks, we'll be hosting a memorial day cook-out and welcoming summer staff.

we had a garage sale with a few camp families on saturday, but the super-chilly 30 degree weather but a little damper on it. we made a little money, but the plan is to do it again in a few weeks when (hopefully!) the weather warms up and encourages more people to venture out.

jim's parents and my sister tiffany will be visiting us later this week, and after easter, jim gets to take a few vacation days. our plan is to hang out here and go on some local adventures. we're thinking the zoo, biking at ohiopyle, and RENT in pittsburgh--which i am super pumped about, because the original roger and mark (who i LOVE) will both be performing! the last time we went, we scored $20 rush tickets, sat in the orchestra pit mere inches from the stage, and it was AMAZING. since we don't live in pittsburgh anymore, (and we have a kid), i don't know that we'll be camped out early for lottery seats, but hopefully we'll get tickets anyway.

other than the weather, things are pretty good. i'm feeling reasonably well, dylan is so much fun, and we're all looking forward some good family time.


toddler sleep schedule--any ideas?

works-for-me-wednesday is a backwards edition this week, meaning that i pose a question, and hopefully you can help me out!

my sixteen-month-old daughter has never been a great sleeper, but finally, in the past few months, she's been waking less at night--sometimes just once.

until now.

this week she's regressed to waking up tearful again three-four times a night, and i know it's because she's exhausted. it's that awful catch 22--the more tired she is, the worse she sleeps. dylan still seems to function best on two naps, but she's beginning to resist that second nap. i'll nurse her, put her in bed, and she might just play there for an hour.

the problem is, she seems to still NEED it. (she's not even 1 1/2.) daylight savings has pushed her bedtime a little later, and she likes to take a morning nap within 2-3 hours of waking up, which makes for a L-O-N-G napless afternoon.

when she's overtired, not only does she/(we!) sleep poorly at night, exacerbating the problem, she also is more prone to falling down and hurting herself. dylan is usually a pretty careful, body conscious kid, but she's gotten more bumps and taken more falls this week than her whole life previously!

some days, we're out and she can only take one nap. on days when we're home, should i still try to get her to take two, or just attempt to delay that morning nap until after lunch?
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