Her 3rd Halloween

Dear Kristen,

Tomorrow is Halloween and I’m not quite ready.  Costumes? Done.  Pumpkins? Carved. Are we trick-or-treating? Undecided. Candy to hand out? Not purchased.  I just haven’t had a lot of time to go get candy.  (Plus we get very few trick-or-treaters, so the drive to buy them is limited.  Except that the candy would get eaten….by us.)

I thought it would be fun to see how the Munchkin has spent the first three Halloweens of her life.  So, here she is!


2011 – Viking; hat courtesy of Aunt Kiki

2012 - Pirate.  Mommy's choice.

2012 – Pirate. Mommy’s choice.

2013 - 80s Dancer.  Daddy's choice.

2013 – 80s Dancer. Daddy’s choice.

Happy Halloween!


Five Good Things

Dear Erin,

Amazing to think that it’s been 100 posts already. I know I wouldn’t have kept it up if we hadn’t been sharing this blog, so thank you! It looks like the next milestone will be a 1-year anniversary.

Again, our lives here on the left coast are taken up with planning things and trips and stuff, so although last week was busier than usual, there’s not much to talk about here. Instead, I think I’ll bring us back down to a level of daily matters and offer up a list of the little things that are making me happy at the moment.

1. I’ve been blown away by our church family, especially lately. It really is starting to feel like we have, not just friends, but actual family here in the Bay Area. With all of our biological blood thousands of miles away, it can get lonely, even with good friends, and even though we really like hanging out together by ourselves. But I think they’ve adopted us, and it really is lovely.

2. I finished my winter hat, and I think it came out well, but it has yet to be blocked, so I’ll put up pictures on Friday.


Being goofy with our friends at Disney a few years ago

3. So excited that it’s almost November!! Otherwise known as Doctor Who month. Two new specials are coming out, and as a bonus, this month’s 50th anniversary short story should be the one written by J. K. Rowling. (I’m a big fan of her other work.) By the way, I got the coolest disappearing Tardis mug from a friend this past week and have been enjoying tea, coffee, whatever I can make an excuse for, from it since.

4. Soon and very soon we get to see family and some of our oldest and best friends, and it’s going to be awesome! It even (well, far and away, to be honest) outweighs my excitement about the Doctor Who stuff. We love these guys and can’t wait for a fun visit with them. I’ll tell you about it in the next couple of weeks.

5. And finally, just to round it out, last week I made these brownies from Bakingdom, one of the blogs I check nearly every day, and they are still making me happy. Her photographs are so delicious themselves that you could put on the pounds just looking at them. I’ve only tried a couple of the recipes and both have been easy and good, and these brownies are something else. The pretzels are the only part keeping me from eating the whole pan in one go; if it was just the straight brownies frosted with Nutella, they would have been gone long ago.

I hope your week is as happy as mine is shaping up to be, full of family and sugar and crafting and maybe some goofy TV.

Top Five of 100

We’ve reached 100!  A hundred posts completed in this endeavor that started off as a “Why not?”  Its been fun for us and hopefully a few other people (probably all of whom are related).  It has allowed us to see parts of each other’s lives that the distance between us would make otherwise difficult.  To celebrate, we thought we’d share our top five favorite posts.  Here they are:

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

1. Playing Hooky – I thought my favorite posts would be those where I’m trying to be cute or clever, with a picture and some flippant text about a recent experience, dealing with the quotidian issues of life. If nothing else, I know the knitting posts are generally among my most popular. But I find myself surprised by my greater interest in the photo-heavy posts. So my first choice is of the pictures I took while Charles’s family was visiting in the spring. We did a good bit of traveling, and the Bay Area was looking its best. It was a delight to try to capture that beauty. ~danifreda 

Pool 1

2.  Summer Shenanigans – When we started this, I assumed I would be able to post consistently about crafting and cooking – two things I love to do and love reading about on blogs.  But alas, those posts are few and far between.  What’s consistent?  The Munchkin.  So my favorite posts are ones where I get to share a little of her personality, which I think is a hoot.  This post is a favorite because you can see her communication style and because she is still FASCINATED with water – even if its 36° outside.  ~crackersister

3. On Being Flexible – One of the few posts where I tried for an extended and thoughtful exploration of a single topic. Generally, these only happen when the mood strikes, which is not often, and consequently I’m a little out of practice at it. Still, this one holds up for me. I still struggle with some of these questions and fears, and I suspect that will always be the case, although right now life feels less as though it’s hanging in the balance of each tiny decision. ~danifreda


4. 52 Weeks – 52 Photos – This is still one of my favorite things that Matt and I decided to do for the Munchkin.  This gallery shares a picture a week for the first year of her life.  There are moments in the past year and almost a half where I’ve thought – “We should have kept going.” But alas, we did not.  ~crackersister


5. San Francisco Botanical Garden Series, pt. 1 – Another picture gallery, or rather, the first in the extended summer series of a gallery of botanical photographs. This series allowed me to indulge in my love of flowers, one of my favorite subjects to photograph. Actually, gardens in general are one of my favorite subjects, full stop. Wrote a whole dissertation on them and still find them compelling. Since we’re only choosing single posts, I’ve linked here to the first in the series, but there are five altogether, and each is different and hopefully enjoyable. ~danifreda

A Night at the Theatre

Dear Erin,

I love the idea of “Crocktober”! Those appliances really are useful, aren’t they? I just broke ours out last week for the first batch of chili in the new house. I didn’t have time to finish cooking it on the stove, so I poured it into the crockpot to finish up while everyone was gone for the evening. The only problem was that it didn’t all fit, so the cooking procedure as a whole ended up being a little ad hoc.


Inside the theatre

This past Saturday, Charles and I headed on up to San Francisco for the first time in a long while. I think he was last there when his parents visited, back in the spring. We were a bit concerned that the BART strike might have made the roads impassable and considered taking Caltrain up, but in the end, we were unwilling to add an extra hour on to our travel time and just took the car. And the roads were pretty much fine. We didn’t have any trouble parking, either, so thank goodness for that.

We got in about five, parked the same place we usually do – a few blocks off of Market Street – and tried dinner at a new burger place: Super Duper Burgers, which was quite good, similar to a Five Guys but more urban in feel. The burgers themselves reminded me of a place we used to go when we were kids, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out where. Maybe Steak ‘n Shake, but I’m not sure. They were kind of flat, especially at the edges, which were crispy. The other standout about this place (besides the 80’s music they were playing) was the pickles, which tasted homemade and were kind of amazing.

After dinner, I sweet-talked Charles into stopping at Schoggi, the chocolate shop we often visit when we’re in the area. I’m trying to make going there into a tradition. Then we took the Muni from Market down to the Castro area. I like subways generally, but I never do enjoy them when they’re crowded, and this one was crowded. Ugh.

Now, we’ve never been to the Castro before, but we stepped out of the clean, open, red brick terminal and it was sunset, with a broad sky above us and fairly low buildings around us, and I thought it was quite beautiful. There was room to breathe. It felt almost like a little town rather than part of a big city. We were going to the historic Castro Theater (right across the street from the terminal), and the line stretched around the block, so there was plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings.

Only later did I find out that a fantastic yarn shop, Imagiknit, was just another block or two away. Talk about a missed opportunity!

We went to see a performance of Cinematic Titanic. You may remember me telling you that Charles likes Rifftrax (for example, in this blog post), and Cinematic Titanic seems to be basically the other half of the team that used to do Mystery Science Theater 3000, so they perform basically the same kind of act: they comedically “riff” on a terrible movie. The movie we saw them send up was The Doll Squad. Do NOT recommend. It is awful in so many different ways. But the comedy overlay got funnier and funnier as the night went on, and I hadn’t even taken advantage of the cash bar in the lobby. I think the highlight may have been when the heroine kills the bad guy – her ex-boyfriend – with a sword hanging on the wall. And then picks up the gun on the table beside her and runs out of the room.

A good time had at the theatre, a much less crowded ride back to Market street, where we ate the truffles we had bought earlier on our walk back to the car, and then the drive home, which is almost always a pleasure because late at night, there’s not much traffic and you can enjoy the moon and the mountains without worrying about the crazy people around you.

We missed the organ player at the Stanford, but we caught the one at the Castro.

We missed the organ player at the Stanford, but we caught the show at the Castro.

Kitchen Appliance Love

Dear Kristen,

That young lady was lucky to have you mentoring her – I know because I’ve been on her side of the fence!  Having been on both sides of the mentoring relationship has been one of the most awesome experiences of my life and I’m very thankful that someone in California got the opportunity to hang with you.

I feel a little chagrined that you write about deep things.  What do I write about?  Dribble.  Here is my unimportant dribble for the day.

I am in love with this:


Isn’t he a-dor-a-ble?!?!?!?  Well, maybe that’s the wrong description….perhaps useful, versatile, or a life-saver would be the better thing to say.  I have used this baby multiple times over the past few weeks and the way things are playing out, there’s a good chance that October will be renamed “Crocktober.”

Who knew that this would be (one of) my true loves in the kitchen?  Soup, meat, noodles, broth – all have emerged from the hollow of this pot to my utter satisfaction.

I probably shouldn’t be QUITE so glowing.  A few of the recipes are in definite need of tweaking, but I will whisper this sentiment so as not to anger the crock pot.  (He’s currently making me taco meat for tonight, so I don’t want to irk him.)

If you don’t use yours, rethink this decision.  You are missing out.  Really.  Don’t know how our family would have eaten a few times this past month without it.

Probably would’ve settled for popcorn. Which would’ve been fine by me.