December 2018

Winter Tree Study

In the past, I've suggested using the Handbook of Nature Study for your nature and garden study needs, and I still maintain that it's a great place for both free and inexpensive study guides, journaling pages and information about different aspects of nature. Each study, such as this winter tree study, guides you through the process without directing it, allowing you to keep it as self-directed as possible.

Lady Frogs Prefer City Frogs

Researchers claim that female frogs prefer frogs from city environments to those in the country. Researchers in Panama examined the different types of frogs that females responded to the most and discovered that the frogs from the most urban areas attracted the most females overall. It's being dubbed "irrationality," but you have to wonder. Maybe the city frogs have more culture and panache. They've probably got better stories to tell and they can take you to the opera, amirite?

No More Quiet

Is it any wonder there's practically no more silent places left on Earth? I can't remember the last time I heard complete silence, particularly with everyone's kid on some device or other (not to mention parents and everyone else, too). Yesterday we went to the movies and there was a 10-year-old kid sitting next to me on his phone, with headphones plugged in, next to his dad, who was on his phone, while they waited for the movie to begin! I try to withhold judgment--I have no rocks to throw, as I use a cell phone, and who knows? Maybe the kid was calmer with his device and needed it.

The Latest in Trump Disasters

Hours ago I had planned on writing something about a court nominee but lo and behold, now Trump's declaring that he will deport refugees from the Vietnam War now because that is SUCH a priority, not to mention a mensch thing to do. I still can't believe this guy. I'm located somewhere between jaw-dropping, outraged disbelief and the terrible, cryogenic state of numbly accepting it all because hey, what would this guy not do?

Grateful Dead Social Media Designs

If you love dressing up y profile page to display your love of all things Grateful Dead, this is the source of cool profile bling for you! These awesome Grateful Dead cover and photo art are Christmas-themed and perfect for your Facebook, Twitter and other profiles. A skeleton as Santa with dancing bear reindeer? Um, yes, please.


This year, I seem to have purchased a few gift items that I think I would enjoy just as much as my family members would! One of these gifts is Wildcraft, an Herbal Adventure. The game is cooperative and helps you learn all about herbs, edible plants and their medicinal uses and more through the style of a beautifully painted board game. I've wanted to buy this game for my little forager for years, and now that she's a teen and I caught it on sale I hope she still enjoys it.

Family Guy Pays Tribute to Carrie Fisher

It's so easy for all of the feels regarding Carrie Fisher to pop up randomly, what with so much Star Wars merchandise, advertising and culture in general afoot. As much as the geek culture saturation is so exciting for those of us who used to hide our comic books in our math books to read at school, it's also always there, and we won't stop missing Leia anytime soon.

Eating Out on Christmas

For some people, eating out may be the only option on Christmas. Whether you've got relatives in the hospital, you don't celebrate Christmas, you can't travel this year (or others can't travel to be with you), or you're missing your family or friends, you may find yourself wishing for a bit of company--even if it means eating out at a Chinese restaurant on Thanksgiving just like the family in A Christmas Story did. You could do worse than a duck dinner, of course, and there are lots of places that don't close during the holidays to choose from.

Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face

We just checked out a book of silly poems as a family and many are just delightful. The collection, written by Jack Prelutsky with illustrations by Brandon Dorman, is called Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face and other poems. It's filled with fanciful creatures, from frogs who take on human characteristics to the dragons and ogres you'd expect from a Prelutsky book, and features over 100 verses about everything from elephants to tigers, witches to dinosaurs and everything in between.

Mulled Wine

At the Trader Joe's sample area (don't you love that area?), I sampled some spiced mulled cider the other day and it was fantastic! It was spicy and sweet at the same time, and they'd heated it, which made it so warming on a cold day. I definitely want to serve some at Christmastime, and I might have a little booze nearby for the holiday, too. 

Different Levels of Spaghetti and Meatballs

My friend C makes the BEST spaghetti, and I know it is because she takes the time to properly sautee her onions, garlic and other herbs before making her homemade sauce. For someone like me who rushes through cooking on a good day, that's an impressive feat. I normally make semi-homemade meals, which consist of tomato sauce mixed with a bunch of my herbs and a hope for the best! Still, I had no idea that there were so many ways to prepare spaghetti.

The Best Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa, whether spiked or not, is the drink of the season. I've enjoyed so many cups of cocoa this month that you'd think I'd be sick of it but I'm not yet! Some are weirder than others (a church event we attend serves a recipe made with sweetened condensed milk), and some are just plain delicious (mixing in cocoa with my coffee: hello, mocha!). I get a giant tub of mix for my daughter's winter get-togethers with friends and it lasts us maybe two events, but she likes the Swiss Miss packets best.

80s Excess

The claim that millennials ruin everything is so irritating not only because anyone young is often considered a millennial (some of us are in our mid-30s, thanks, and the yongest of us are 22), but because we 80s kids are being blamed for industries tanking when it's really not our fault. (That's not to say nothing is our fault; plenty of other things are!) The 80s showed us a time of excess, where people bought, bought, bought and wasted, wasted, wasted despite Captain Planet's warnings.

No Women Comedians Nominated for Grammy Award

It seems weird that comedians should be awarded Grammy Awards in the first place. Maybe they should have their own comedian awards rather than being awarded just because they had an album made of their jokes and talking. I LOVE comedy, I love some comedians very much, but Grammys are supposed to be for music, right? If not, could anyone who read an audiobook or any politician who made a speech that was recorded also get a Grammy?

Oddity Mall

Do you know someone who might like a shirt with an enormous pocket on the outside, a baseball cap that doubles as a phone charger or a tiny lazy Susan for the pantry or fridge? Maybe he or she would LOVE this Chewbacca Bandolier seatbelt cover (I know I would!). You can find all of these things and more at the Oddity Mall, a curation company that scours the web for the strangest finds and where to buy them.

Favorite Holiday Reads

With Christmas and New Year's quickly approaching, we've been looking into fun family read-alouds to enjoy with one another. We love seasonal read-alouds, especially for Halloween, but Christmas has been getting trickier now that our tween is a teen and not into our favorites like The Polar Express so much anymore. While she'll enjoy them when her two-year-old cousin visits, we need something a bit more advanced for her these days. I have Nicholas St.