Thursday, December 31, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Knit Squirrel

I know I mentioned before that I recently learned how to knit (this is not a knitting blog!) and that I learned this new skill from my friend L, who has been knitting for years and makes some really fantastic stuff. I asked her to knit me a squirrel friend, and this is what recently appeared in my arms.

Please note his adorable fatness! The stuffing has settled near his hips, giving him delightful little love handles and he is just oh so squirrely! I am also a fan of his perfectly white little belly! He was in our living room for a while, but had to be moved to make way for my nativity set. Now he perches atop our dresser, snuggling with the Haverford black squirrel, and watches us as we sleep. Sigh... he is just the cutest thing.

Thanks, L!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Haverford Arboretum Squirrel Shirt

My friend E's family is very supportive of my squirrel habit. In fact, they're responsible for supplying two of my favorite squirrel items in my collection, and now have added one more to the pile.

You may recall Haverford being mentioned on this blog previously. Their mascot is the black squirrel, and I already have a beautiful plush black squirrel from their store. Well, E's father was at Haverford the other day and saw this awesome shirt with a cartoon squirrel and acorn. (Side note: Nothing tickles me like when a squirrel is depicted with an acorn. It's adorable, and reminds me that it isn't exactly normal for all squirrels to carry around bits of moldy pizza, which is what most squirrels around here seem to eat.)

This shirt is now a beloved part of my collection, and I intend to wear it around the house and to bed (because nothing screams "sexy!" like a squirrel shirt, and I know B will agree).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Squirrel Ornament

This is a good time of year for my squirrel collection. People have been paying attention, and my collection has grown quite a bit. I have at least four new items to highlight in my Squirrel Stuff I Own series! Quite amazing. This year's first gift, a squirrel Christmas ornament.

This is from our nieces M and H. You may recall that I lived with some of our nieces over the summer, and they were all quite supportive of my little squirrel obsession. Nevertheless, I was surprised to open a squirrel Christmas ornament on Christmas morning. Surprised, and thrilled! I stuck him as close to the top of the tree as I possibly could (we still don't have a tree topper) and he sits there now and observes my every move. I sure do love that little rodent.

Thanks, M and H!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Don't Own: Child's Play Laptop

Sometimes squirrels can be found in the most random places.

B and I have several nieces, and this year B went to Target to pick out their gifts. For the 2-year-old he picked out a little play laptop with all sorts of educational games, and, most importantly, lots of buttons to push (her favorite). While I was wrapping I decided to turn it on and play with it a bit (you know, just to make sure it worked).

B came running into the bedroom when he heard my screaming; he probably thought I had accidentally stabbed myself with the scissors, but in fact I was screaming with joy. The host of this tiny, masterful little laptop program? A squirrel. I was so excited I turned it off and on a couple of times just to see him come in and out of his tree and greet me and say goodnight.

I had great difficulty wrapping the present and sending it to the 2-year-old.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I am the wrapping paper industry's bitch.

Something I've discovered about myself in the past few years spent as an adult is that I have terribly expensive taste in wrapping paper. It's not really a good thing... after all, wrapping paper just gets thrown away at the end of the day.

But I wrapped a bunch of presents last night and placed them under the tree, and wow, they do look special with my fancy wrapping paper.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sometimes I write about other rodents.

I knit this little guy.
And he is damn adorable. I made him thinking that I would give him away, but yesterday I tried to stuff him in a little box to ship him and his sad little embroidered mouse eyes just wouldn't let me do it.

So I put him under the Christmas tree instead and I guess he's going to be our Christmas Mouse.

But seriously... cutest thing I have ever knit.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New York World's Fair

I may have mentioned that we're now living in Queens rather than Manhattan. It's very different out here, and so far we're enjoying it.

We decided to get to know our new borough a little better and rode the 7 out to Flushing Meadows, the site of the two World's Fairs held in New York City (although the second fair was apparently unsanctioned).

Having come from Washington, I am very familiar with vestigial buildings of the Seattle World's Fair held in 1962. The Space Needle, the monorail, and much of the Pacific Science Center is leftover from that particular event. Most of those things are still in decent condition (even though the monorail keeps breaking down... but we don't talk about that in my household). New York City seems to have not cared for its World's Fair souvenirs quite as well. For instance, there is supposed to be a Fountain of the Planets, and I was very excited about this because I love the planets. But it turned out to be a big pond with an ugly square building in the center.

Probably one of the better-known examples of neglected World's Fair buildings is this one, the New York State Pavilion.

It's in almost total ruin, kind of sad to see. That ceiling apparently used to be stained glass, but they destroyed it a long time ago and in the process mutilated what was apparently a beautiful map of New York City on the floor of this building. I'm told that the remains of this map are currently in a museum, but they're not in good shape.

They do have some statues still in good shape, like this one, which I first thought was Apollo but I'm really not sure what he is supposed to be. And of course the Unisphere, of which I took many pictures but I did not post here as those are posted all over the place. (When I got home I even realized that our Queens phonebook has the Unisphere on the cover.)

What is particularly strange to me is that the Mets play right nextdoor to this park, and the US Open is held here every year. So it's not like the area is dead, yet we have these rotting buildings right next door. It's strange to me, but I do understand there are better things to spend the budget on than refurbishing an almost-fifty-year-old building.
And, just to keep us on topic here, here's a decent picture of a squirrel I got while out at Flushing Meadows. The squirrels out there were looking pretty fat and healthy; must be all those baseball hotdogs?

Monday, November 23, 2009

NOT a squirrel

I just wanted to take a moment to discuss a ridiculous creature, the banana slug.

This thing is clearly not a squirrel, not even a mammal. And it's a ridiculous bright yellow which makes no sense to me. It also seems to be the mascot California's state parks, but I'm not sure about that so don't quote me.

We saw not one squirrel in the redwoods, but we saw a banana slug.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 6

Our last squirrel sighting came in Portland, Oregon. We stayed there overnight near the end of our trip. It was actually my first time in downtown Portland, although I lived on the West Coast for almost eighteen years.

We had wandered around for a bit and I actually had to use the facilities very badly. We ran into the local public library and thought it would be a good place for a pit stop. The public library in downtown Portland is surprisingly ornate, but maybe I just say that because I'm used to the crazy Seattle Public Library. While waiting for B, I looked down and saw that I was standing on top of a squirrel!

It was a beautiful moment, and had B been standing there with me I probably would have kissed him. But instead I spent the next five minutes looking like an idiot trying to take a picture of the shiny floor. Still, what a find!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 5

People, there is nothing creepier than a stuffed squirrel. What was cute, charming, and sometimes vicious while alive simply becomes ridiculous when stuffed in death. And yet, when some squirrels go to the big Acorn Tree in the Sky, people sometimes want them stuffed and mounted for, I don't know, scientific purposes.

Take this marmot for instance (yes, a marmot is a type of squirrel... look it up, damnit!). I found this guy in Glacier National Park at the visitor center at Logan Pass. In life, he was probably a little fat, probably waddled a bit, and the tourists all had a good giggle at the round little marmot. He just looks like an idiot now, buck teeth all over the place and kind of unnaturally hunched over. Of course this didn't stop me from taking a picture of him, but I collect these sorts of things so I kind of have to. I have fans with expectations, you know.

These little ground squirrels actually turned out okay. They were kind of cute, still a little fat, and the taxidermist captured their beady little black eyes brilliantly. Still creepy, in my opinion.

I love squirrels, but I would never allow a dead squirrel into my house and I would certainly never use it as decoration. Live squirrels are a totally different story. Someday B is going to return from work and discover the apartment in total disarray, scratch marks all over the walls, and me in the corner clutching a terrified squirrel. It isn't going to be pretty, but it will be a whole lot prettier than these poor dead squirrels from Montana!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 4

This picture is from the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. B snuck in to have a look around and took this photo of the wallpaper.

Of course it was I who spotted the squirrel after uploading the pictures onto my computer.

Can you see him? He's quite small.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 3

Wow, what a great picture of a chipmunk, Casey! And you say you're terrible at taking squirrel pictures! This one is really good! And you got so close!
Yeah, he's plastic. I found him in the Yosemite National Park Visitor Center and took this picture on the sly. I've had a few people start to compliment me on the excellent squirrel photo before they realize that there is something not quite squirrely about him. He was actually in a display with a selection of other adorable rodents, but I'll spare you the joy of those photos.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 2

Found this little guy at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. B saw me taking a picture of the wall and somehow didn't notice its inherent squirreliness. I had to point it out to him.

The funny thing is that I don't think we saw even one squirrel the whole time we were at the Grand Canyon. Sure, we were only there for about 24 hours, but still. It was probably the least squirrely part of our trip (well, Vegas and Death Valley were pretty low on squirrels, too). Anyway, I'm glad the interior designer of the visitor center had the good sense to put our favorite rodent on the wall.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Squirrel Sightings!

So I know I actually haven't posted much about our honeymoon. I had some difficulty even posting those few pictures I managed to put up. We were outside of any cell phone service for large chunks of the trip, and a data connection was even more difficult to find! Suffice to say, we had an excellent time and our marriage survived our confinement in a 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon.

We saw a lot of squirrels on our honeymoon. Lots of squirrels. In fact, I have a large selection of squirrel photos from our trip, but nearly every one is just a blurry bit of gray fuzz surrounded by grass. Those little suckers move too quickly!

I had a much easier time getting squirrel pictures of the inanimate sort. And yes, there are other lovers of all things squirrel out there. This picture is from Yellowstone National Park. It decorates the porch of what seemed like ranger housing. We ran into this after our hike to the Beaver Ponds, a hike during which we saw exactly zero beavers. So this was a welcome little surprise back at the trailhead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Squirrely Activities

Well I know it has been a little quiet over here in New York City Squirrel land, and I apologize for that. We completed our honeymoon on October 15, and spent the next two weeks living in my mother's basement and desperately trying to secure an apartment in New York City. We ended up getting lucky and finding a really good deal out in Queens. (Does this make us bridge and tunnel people?) We're settling into our new apartment now and I just haven't had the time to focus on my love of squirrels. Also I've only seen two squirrels since we moved out here, and that's a little depressing.

I did want to write a little about some cookies I made while we were still at home, squirrel cookies.

Oh yes, you read that correctly. I went shopping with my grandmother one day in October and we ended up at a little kitchen store that sells a wide variety of cookie cutters. And they had a squirrel cookie cutter! I do have a policy of not buying squirrel stuff for myself (mostly because that would get out of control really fast), but I made an exception and bought it.

What a great purchase! I rolled out some delicious squirrel cookies that very evening using my family's recipe for Best Butter Cookies. They were both delicious and adorable.

We decorated them with frosting and they were gone within about two days. I've got the squirrel cookie cutter here in New York now and I surely do intend to use it again. I suspect that future guests at our apartment will be welcomed with a warm plate of squirrel cookies! Lucky guests!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Change of Pace

Greetings, New York City Squirrel Fanboys and Fangirls. B and I are heading out on our honeymoon roadtrip tomorrow morning before the sun even rises. We don't know how long the roadtrip will be, but it will certainly be at least four weeks. Unless, of course, I find out that I'm not as squirrely as I thought I was and that I hate living in the forest.

We're going to be traveling around the American West, hopping between national parks and state parks and spending a lot of time around a campfire. We clearly won't have much Internet access. We will, however, have B's Palm Pre, and I'm hoping to post pictures regularly in this blog of where we are and what we're doing.

I am hoping to find lots of squirrels and squirrel-related items along our trip, so hopefully the theme of this blog will remain the same. I was happy to see, on our way to Seattle the other day, that there are, indeed, other squirrel lovers out there and that they tend to own restaurants and motels. I'm hoping to meet some of them along the way.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Post-Minnesota - What I've Been Doing

Oh, you know, the usual. Reading other people's blogs while I neglect my own. Playing piano in the mornings and drinking way too much coffee. Watching old Star Trek movies on the VCR. Oh, all those things and HOLDING A BABY SQUIRREL!

It was the best day of my life. Okay, well, my wedding day probably technically ranks higher than the day I first held a baby squirrel, but still. It was an amazing three minutes in my life. I should mention that I was able to hold this little squirrel because he was rescued by some close family friends. He and his brother are being kept in a cage and fed every 3 hours by this family destined for sainthood, and we happened to show up around feeding time. They're absolutely adorable, with tiny little bushy tails and soft fur and tiny little ears. Perfect specimens of squirrelness!

Besides holding squirrels, B and I have been preparing for our upcoming honeymoon, also known as our roadtrip also known as our first anniversary trip. We're efficient like that. I think I've posted a picture of our chosen vehicle for this trip, my mother's Volkswagon Westaflia Vanagon. I've spent quite a bit of time in the last few days stuffing it full of camping and cooking gear.

Luckily the van (or "Westy" as I've been affectionatly calling her) has lots of good storage space so I think we're going to be very comfortable.

Oh, and I've been purchasing beer of the appropriate theme for our honeymoon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Beanie Baby Chipmunk

It's amazing the things you find when you come home and actually take the time to examine the contents of your room. I have a giant shelf full of stuffed animals, and for the first time I looked up at that shelf and thought to myself, "Hey, maybe there's a squirrel in there somewhere."

Like most children of the 90s I was not safe from the Beanie Baby craze and I have at least ten of them, as does my sister and mother. I mean, they are cute, but they sure didn't turn out to be the investment that 8-year-old Casey had hoped they would be. Oh well, I was still happy to find this guy. His little black and white stripes are so charming and so almost accurate. Perhaps this was even the first squirrel item I purchased as a young not-yet-blossoming squirrel lover?

And yes, chipmunks are a type of squirrel. In fact, they are a ground squirrel, much like prairie dogs. Look it up if you don't believe me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

But Casey, why were you in Ohio?

That's an excellent question. As it turns out, we had a wedding in Ohio to attend last weekend and therefore our presence was required in the great state of Ohio.

The wedding was fantastic. The bride is a Hindu, and the groom a Catholic, and so they had separate ceremonies and receptions for each, with the Hindu ceremonies in the morning and the Catholic ceremony in the evening. The Hindu ceremonies had a red theme, and the bride wore a beautiful red sari and mounds of gold jewelry. She looked spectacular.

Unfortunately I try to not post pictures of people's faces on my blog so you'll have to instead admire the pretty centerpiece and table number. And the red can of Pepper, MD.

Oh and I did I mention that the lunch reception was Indian food only? Full disclosure here: I have never liked Indian food much, so I wasn't very excited about this reception, but wow. I've really changed my mind about Indian food. I loved almost everything I tried.

The dessert was especially good (it's that little brown bar on the lower left) and we never found out what it was called. Also, there was a dish that had large chunks of cheese in it. It's not in the picture because I inhaled it before I managed to get my camera out.

The Catholic ceremony was also lovely, as was the reception. Also, there was a new color theme for this ceremony and reception, a nice green and yellow and black.

And we changed table numbers. Crazy, eh? It was really like attending two separate weddings in one day. All in all it was a fantastic day for all of us guests, and definitely worth the little side trip to Ohio!

When did this become a food blog?

So we were in Ohio last weekend and had a chance to try some tasty Ohio meals.

Have you been to Ohio? I had driven through before, but never stopped to say hello. We were in the Cincinnati area too, which was completely new to both of us. We both like to sample the regional flavors when we visit new places (see the Florida post about food), and so we set off in search of some Cincinnati cuisine.

Our first stop was Skyline Chili, the fast food of choice for citizens of Cincinnati. It's not really fast food, at least not to me, because they have a seating area with table service. They also bring you oyster crackers when you get there.

They are famous for, obviously, their chili. We sampled some chili fries, among other things, and the chili was way different than any other I've tried. Also they put tons of cheese on top. TONS OF CHEESE. Even more cheese than I would put on something and I'm cheese-crazed!

Next we tried what was advertised to us as the best ice cream in the United States. Graeter's Ice Cream was started in the Cincinnati area and is made using the "French pot" method or something like that. I read about it in the pamphlet at the store but am too lazy to go look it up online and verify that fact. Sorry.

The greatest thing about Graeter's was their chocolate chips. They put giant chips in their ice cream and they're tasty and melt in your mouth.

I had peanut butter chip ice cream. It was very good, although I would hesitate to call this the best ice cream in the country. I actually had some Mitchell's Ice Cream in San Francisco earlier this summer and it was definitely one of the Ten Best Things I've Ever Eaten.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Well, we had another birthday last weekend. Our niece M (you may recall her from the building of the mouse house back in June) turned five, and the family had very small party for her.

Of course, her birthday was a little more fun than our two-year-old niece's birthday just a few weeks ago. Two-year-old C wasn't very interested in opening presents, and didn't really seem to know what was going on when we lit the candles on the cake. But five-year-old M definitely knew what was going on. When she showed up at our house earlier in the day she bolted into our room, saw the wrapped present on the bed and shouted, "Is that for ME?!?!" And I said, "Yes, it's for you! I hear it's your birthday." To which she replied, "It's MY BIRTHDAY!!!!" and then ran in circles a few times before demanding to know whether or not we had bought her a pony.

Oh, and there was Funfetti cake, and I love Funfetti cake. My sister-in-law makes it for all the kids' birthdays so she's a Funfetti master. And I am a fan of the Funfetti, or, as B pointed out, a "fanfetti."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Macalester Wedding!

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, a pair of friends from Macalester were married last weekend. I don't know if others find this to be true, but I've noticed that in our post-college existence we've become mighty dependent on weddings to bring our group of friends back together. We've still got plenty of friends left to tie the knot, but I'm already concerned about the day when we run out of college weddings. What will we do then? I guess we'll just have to attend reunion every five years.

The ceremony was held in a little church in a strange part of downtown Saint Paul.

The inside of the church was just gorgeous, but my camera doesn't do well in lower light so you'll have to make do with the pictures from the outside. I was very pleased to see how they did the ceremony. Both the bride and groom stood at the altar with the officiant, and both sets of parents and siblings stood right there with them. The parents wrote beautiful things to say to the two of them and it was quite touching. Later, as they bride and groom exited the church, we tossed lavender at them, which smelled wonderful. I thought that was a nice touch.

Later the reception was held on the U of M campus and it was a mighty classy affair! I pretty much devoured the entire plate of artichoke dip that greeted me at the entrance (I'm getting hungry just thinking about it). They had a great selection of hosted beer, and they had some particularly fun signature cocktails, including this little espresso drink. Note the coffee beans floating in it!

I didn't partake because I don't drink liquor, but I loved watching the little coffee beans float around.

They also had beautiful centerpieces, in my opinion. Very country cottage but incredibly elegant at the same time.

I admit, though, that I never noticed centerpieces at weddings until I got married. Now that I've planned a wedding I notice all sorts of details at other weddings that I would've never noticed before.

This was a wonderful wedding, and we're so happy for A and B (particularly happy for them that they never have to plan a wedding ever again!) and so pleased to have been there on their special day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hail, hail to thee, our college dear.

B and I have been living in Minnesota all summer, and yet we've neglected to visit our dear alma mater, Macalester College, located in beautiful Saint Paul, Minnesota. We took advantage of the fact that a few of our good friends were in town for a wedding and went for a walk around the campus.

Macalester has recently built a new athletic facility. I was one of approximately five people on campus who actually used the old athletic facility, and despite the fact that I do not self-identify as an athlete I wholeheartedly agreed that we needed a new one.

I couldn't believe it when we walked into the new gym. It was gorgeous, huge, beautiful. Beautiful design. Fantastic aesthetics. I was so impressed. I was also pleased to see that they incorporated the M in the center of the old basketball court as part of a sitting area now.

Yeah, I know it's upside-down. I was too lazy to move to take the picture. The other best part of it was the Kofi Annan Ping Pong Table. Oh yes, you heard me right.

I think the current students playing ping pong at the table were a little annoyed that us old people were walking around and giggling and taking pictures while they were trying to concentrate on their game. But I think it's just fantastic that Macalester has taken its ridiculous Kofi obsession to a new level.

We later managed to sneak into the new Markim Hall, the home of the Institute for Global Citizenship, on the corner of Grand and Snelling. Now this is a beautiful building. The outside is a little to Kagin-esque for me, but the inside is wonderful. They've made it as green as possible by doing things like using recycled glass to decorate the floor.

And they attempt to incorporate natural light into the building with things like these fantastic skylights (which we hear doubles as a sundial).

I was so impressed with how the campus looks. It actually made me anxious to get the next Annual Fund mailing so that I can send them all my monies. The college is doing a fantastic job, in my opinion, with these new buildings and I'm excited to see what they have in store for the new art building someday.
And no, I don't work in the Development Office!