Collections: Thoughts and Things Celebrate, Create, Contemplate. Repeat.

Groundhogs, Football & Menu Ideas

Happy Groundhog Day! 

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club will be hosting for the 131st time. Phil will leave his burrow at Gobblers Knob in and look for his shadow. The club has a 19 page program for the week. Looks like fun! 

Plus another celebration brewing on Sunday.  The Superbowl.  Many of the highly anticipated commercials have arrived early. My traditional favorite is the Budweiser Clydesdales, but this year Bud has a peek at their founders. Cheers.

So while we’re waiting for kickoff, I’ll share some Fun with Food. A collection of real foods we’ve sampled.  A range of responses was warmly shared, ‘Really Mom?’, ‘it’s a tradition’, ‘when in Rome’, and ‘Hey! This is great’.

Other fun with food: a way to keep track of your malted beverage, a way to gussie-up your pup, and perhaps a way to enhance breakfast . . .

But let’s talk important, game-time treats. Time to pop in Groundhog’s Day for family movie night, and make a shopping list. Let's Ketchup!

Hope you have a lovely February, anyway you serve it.


Christmas Eve!

Wrapping up (pun intended) this week with a most loved collection–Advent calendars.

I wanted to have keepsake calendars that welcome interaction with our little elves, whatever their ages. Some times there will be a treat, coupon or note inside, but most often just the joy in a day closer to Christmas. This felt calendar by Garnet Hill has pockets and an embroidered symbol to greet each day.

Nativity calendar by Museum of Fine Arts Boston.  The velcro backed pieces are sized perfectly for pudgy little toddler hands, but not too small for toddler mouths.  Many holiday decorations are a ‘don’t touch’ item, so nice to have one that is a ‘yes please’.  The barn is becomes quite crowded by the time all 24 pieces are up. PS, also fits perfectly well in teenage hands.

The first 2 calendars are a nice Christmas red, but I have ended with a red-orange sort of glow. And blurry at that, well it’s how it looks to me without my glasses.  Sorry.

A quilted calendar by Pottery Barn Kids.  Each pocket has a holiday detail, and the numbers are non-sequential, and they can be anywhere on the square. An annual homemade marker is made and moved from pocket to pocket to count the days.  This year it’s Oprah! (From the magazine’s December cover.)

Somehow I was maternally preoccupied (read: obsessed) with each child having a fair and equal turn marking the days. Luckily 24 is divisible by 2, 3, and 4! Each year a rotation moving the marker, adding or uncovering the date per calendar has been a cheerful yet negotiated sequence. Also almost always a mini math test. . . .   I try to keep the number of treats equal in frequency and color. (See obsessed above, and really the tussle over different color wrappers on Hershey’s Kisses® was a one year only mistake on my part.)  Don’t mess with these girls’ chocolate! (Present company included.)

Of course, issues disappear with having individual chocolate countdowns. Or a box of Frango’s.

Chocolate calendar

When munchkin number 4 arrived in December, I panicked. This resulted in an impulse purchase. It’s unusual, and Play Mobil sets are a favorite.  But the pirate themed Advent calendar was never really embraced with enthusiasm.

1970’s Hallmark card featuring Rudolph.

While not quite an Advent calendar, this card counts the days until Christmas with chores! Given to me by my college roommates. Recently unearthed from a box during a purging spree.  Elicited a jolly ho ho ho from me to see it.

Sassy 1

I could have added more candy cane stickers before photographing but I did not.  It was during the frenzy of my final set of December finals, and chores were not really high on my list. But I did brush my teeth!   Wonder if there’s a time limit on completing the chart for a present? . . .  Most likely this is headed to the recycle bin, but with a smile. (From continued excellent brushing.)

Merry Christmas!

Holiday Mail – Christmas Seals

Collection of vintage Christmas seals.

Candles +

Candles, Crèche & Chapel


Even the shapes of the stickers on the sheet are charming

Poinsettias & Snowpeeps

Embossed detail

Small but with terrific detail


Kris Kringle and crewKris Kringle and crewChef SantaWhen done with the candy canes, doesn’t he seem ready to say Buon Natale & whip up a panettone next?1938 Christmas Seal1943 Christmas SealGosh, those last two from the American Lung Association are almost bittersweet. Quick stir in a bit more merriment to the mix,

Stickers from the 80’s

Some of these seals will be part of a gift, some will be used by the munchkins this year, some will be tucked back into the box,Favorite Setand some displayed, next to a pair of turquoise skis, of course.

Father Snow

Ever catch something out of the corner of your eye that makes you smile?

Father Snow

FYI, it was during a very quiet moment of solitude (not a service) when this ironic monument caught my eye, and I laughed out loud. In a cemetery.

Yikes, potential bad karma, but a true laugh coming from such a location just might be welcome.

Here is a collection of winter memories in the Rockies.

One outing found me ice skating, literally, into this sign. Probably not unique as it is the perfect place for dental advertising, but definitely enjoyed the laugh, and the support.

MT Dent

Onto Winter Carnival

mt balto

Sled Dogs on parade


Yak it up

Is that what I think it is? What do I think it is?

A parade that featured pirates and, not exceptionally shaggy amiable bison, but yaks! My first ever yak siting.

 She’s Snow Happy!Snow angelI just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite. Buddy the Elf

off to get the mail

Off to get the mail

If you've gotta have s'mores

If you’ve gotta have s’mores . . .

MT 4

Brings a new meaning to ‘snowfall’

Got Cocoa?


Would the van thermometer display temps below zero? It did. Brrrrr!

That’s -27 C for any potential international readers . . .

Forecast? Cold and snowy. Scattered with warm holiday memories.

Row Row Row Your Boat (encore from April 2014)

How can I link a rainy Saturday in Seattle, (yes, hard to distinguish given so many similar days. . .)  to the achievement of an American gold medal in the Olympics?

Well, I can start by mentioning a book.  The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown published in June 2013. The book, describes the stories of the varsity crew members for the University of Washington.  This is the gold medal part of the post.

In April 2013,  I attended my daughter’s regatta held at the University of Washington. The morning started with a brief springlike moment of sun, and within minutes the skies became kitten gray and began to pour torrents of rain. Buckets. Puddles. The teams waited for their turn to row through the Montlake Cut.  The kids were terrific. Cold, soggy, fun.

The clouds poured

This is the rainy Saturday part of the post.

Parents were invited into the UW Conibear Shellhouse to warm up as the boats came in.  My jacket was dripping and my jeans were saturated up to the knee.  And I was faring well compared to the rowers. Conibear 2Nestled on Lake Washington, I had a few moments to myself in the dining room out of the rain.UW CREW the BOAT 3

As I waited for my munchkin’s boat to make its way back to the dock,  I looked up to see an old racing shell hanging from the ceiling. Things made of wood are my kind of things. (In our entry, I have a vintage pair of skis, an 8′ toboggan, and a carved antique door panel.)

Wood seats, metal riggers, leather shoes, a polished honey glow.  The shell was beautiful.

UW CREW the BOAT 1I scampered back outside when the team arrived back to the dock.

Raining again

Getting rained on a second time. Brrrr

In 2014, my rower and I went to hear author Daniel James Brown speak and read from The Boys in the Boat. He was joined by Judy Willman, the daughter of one the boys.  As they shared details about this amazing story about the boys, and the journey researching and writing the book, they also mentioned the boat.

1936 team from Husky Crew Foundation

1936 postcard with the Olympic course on Lake Grunau. Husky Crew Foundation

(Listen to coxswain Bob Moch describe the gold medal race.)

Mr. Brown stated that the Husky Clipper racing shell used by the 1936 UW Olympic Champions now hangs from the ceiling of the dining hall in the Conibear Shellhouse.

OMG, I had pictures of it! I gasped as I realized I’d been so close to a piece of history. (Yes, I welled up too)

This IS the boat. The Boys were in This Boat.UW CREW the BOAT 2

And I sat under it on a rainy Saturday.

Completely changed the meaning of ‘cool’ when I now remember that regatta.

row 3 UW IZ

The girls in the boat.

More scoop:

Boys in the Boat  book excerpt, interview with author Daniel James Brown, and video of the Olympic race.

Have I read the book? Yes! Twice.

If you’re in Seattle, the Conibear Shellhouse is open 9-5 M-F, and there’s a Boys of 1936 Tour

Oh, how are the Husky men’s varsity crew doing? 2015 was their fifth national championship in a row.

Halloween Songs

I ‘ve always remembered this tune from 1st grade.  Still a hit with the kindergarten crowd.

One little, two little, three little witches,
Fly over haystacks, fly over ditches,
Four little, five little, six little witches,
Hi Ho Hallowe’en’s here!

Why? It would be much more useful if macroeconomic theories learned in college were A) as easily retrievable or B) even there in my brain instead of spooky tunes. But it’s happy memory. 

And this is the other half of my elementary school Halloween song repertoire. For a more spooky setting, like when telling ghost stories around a campfire or at a sleepover.

Skin and Bones

There was an old woman all skin and bones,
She lived down by the old graveyard,
One night she thought she’d take a walk,
She walked down by the old graveyard,
She saw the bones a-lying around,
She went to the closet to get a broom,
She opened the door and ——-


Handmade Vintage Childrens Halloween Invitation

1930’s Handmade Party Invitation

Halloween placemat detail 2

Detail from Vintage Crepe Paper Halloween Placemat

Happy Halloween!


Something really scary,

-MPC/MPS, where MPC is the marginal propensity to consume and MPS is the marginal propensity to save. It tells you how much total spending will result from an initial change in the level of taxation. It is negative because when taxes decrease, spending increases, and vis versa. The tax multiplier will always be smaller than the spending multiplier.

Kicking Off the Weekend

Fall weather is boot weather.

And your socks don’t have to match.  Happy weekend :)

Fur Real II


An inherited fur coat.

It was purchased for the bitterly cold Chicago winters.  Probably had a turn in New York and Denver too during the 40’s and 50’s.  Appropriate for the time and place.  (Remember smoking was chic in then too.)

It’s been in storage for a long, long, long time (read: decades).

Should one of us end up at a wintertime function in say sub-zero Minneapolis, could it be worn with a pin that says, ‘This is vintage”?  Possible, but nope.

I tried it on, it was like being hugged by someone you can’t see, bulky and heavy. Admittedly, the coat is also warm and soft. Like a kitten. Because it IS like a kitten. Yikes. And we’re back to not wearing.  We are comfortable in polar fleece. North Face vs. With a Face.

This well-made coat has been waiting for a purpose for a generation. And I have been pushing it farther back in the spare room closet.  So many other things to sort, share, save and discard.  But it was time. As much as I enjoy Macklemore, I did not want to send it to the thrift shop.  How to be a non-fur family respectfully addressing a furry heirloom, and keep it out of any ketchup?

I found a fantastic resource for recycling furs to help animals! Coats for Cubs is a partnership with the Humane Society and Buffalo Exchange vintage clothing stores.

The annual Coats for Cubs fur drive encourages the donation of fur items to aid in the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned animals across the United States. Donated furs are collected and shipped to animal rehabilitation units where they are disassembled and used as bedding to provide a more natural and nurturing environment for injured and orphaned wildlife. Because the furs are disassembled, the condition of the fur contribution is unimportant. However, real furs are preferred by both the rehab facilities and the animals.

Vintage College Application

It’s college application season. A fall which may contain mixtures of preparation, trepidation, inspiration, doubt, creativity, procrastination, and excitement for students & families.

If you thought the process used to be simpler, you’re right. Following are excepts from one students mid-1930’s college application.  A few simple pages, completed by hand, and supporting documentation.


  • Ranked in the bottom third of class. 65th out of 110 students. 85’s in English and History. 50 in Physics.


  • His high school principal stated “He can be viewed upon to do enough to pass.” and  ” . . . his natural gifts of intelligence, likableness, and popularity.”
  • Parental input ” . . . has a brilliant mind, but is careless and lacks application in those in which he is not interested.”


  • Enjoys football and crew. No employment history.
  • One of nine siblings. His mother is a housewife with a high school education. He attended prep school, and is a legacy.

The all important Essay? The application poses just one question, “Why do you wish to come to Harvard?”

  • “I have always wanted to go there, . . .”

Except for the fact that he began as a freshman at a different college, and withdrew for medical reasons.

The 91 word essay conclusion?

  • “To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one I sincerely hope I shall attain.”

Hmmm. I don’t sense quite the same urgency/agony/excitement of trying to express the essence of yourself, (what you have accomplished & what you plan to do) that the 150-650 word essays elicit today.

He was admitted. He built on his strengths.  He achieved some success.

One letter begins “A chap by the name of John Fitzgerald Kennedy . . .” from Radcliffe Heermance at Princeton.

Was it a different time, place and privilege? You bet. The application form asks for name of the principal or headmaster.


Back to current college applications.  I have always appreciated the following advice from an early childhood education teacher.

Please remember, it’s a journey not a race. 

(Made as parents were madly checking what was the appropriate time/age for our child to stand or draw a face) Can you tell which wonderful high school senior walked, talked or was potty trained first? Or last? Didn’t think so.

Breathe Seniors.  (Parents too.) Just like the student above, you or your child may be just beginning to realize your potential. College applications are just part of the journey. Good luck & have fun.

 JFK Pre-enrollment materials, 1935-1936

Here Kitty Kitty (encore)

And I am probably not alone in this experience, so thought I would share.

Nothing like a drive on a delightful day. . . . sunroof open, two happy kids chatting in the car on the way back from an engaging activity and headed for a play-date. Fun!

Unless, while on the curving, tree-lined road, you see something is in the middle of it . . . and your child glimpses it too.

Mommy! Was that a Kitty?! Did you see it? Can we stop and go back?  I think it might need help.

Oh my. Yes I saw it.  Poor thing, an ever-so-freshly flattened opossum.  And yes I am trying to retain my stomach contents after just driving past it, which will not be the case if we return to ‘help’.  It did deserve the dignity of a burial, or a scrape from the road. But weighing the potential trauma of actually seeing the ‘kitty’ for both the kids, and I, stopping was not a prudent option.

No sweetie, that was not a kitty, it was a opossum from the woods.  He must have tried to cross the road earlier. And Honey? Well, um, sorry but it is too late to stop and help.  I am proud of you for wanting too.

Ah, a new memory to be added to patchwork moments of our family

Sorry for any queasiness.