making a list and …

He’s making a list

and checking it twice,

He’s gonna find out

who’s naughty or nice …

And he’s …

… waiting for you …

at an adorable website called where your child can write to Santa and get a personalized video and written reply all the way from the North Pole.

With just a few clicks, your child sends an e-mail letter to Santa with her first name, age, city, and her top three Christmas wishes. Then the fun begins.

First, you’ll hear Santa and his elves talking about your child (be sure to turn up your volume so you can understand the “Elvish” chatter), then Santa appears in a cute video, calling your child by name, and talking about Christmas preparations at the North Pole. Then you get a personalized letter on your screen that even discusses your wish-list items. After printing your letter, you can opt into a parents-only portion of the site that allows you to upload a photo of your Christmas tree and insert a photo of Santa into it, then help Santa write a personalized thank-you note to your child for the snacks she left him. You then print out the thank you and leave it for your child to discover on Christmas morning.

All this without divulging any personal information … you don’t even have to input your e-mail address. Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of this new twist on writing to Santa. While you’re there, be sure to check out “The Santa Tracker” and “The Santa Snooper” North Pole web cam. You can also listen to the elves read “The Night Before Christmas,” read Santa’s blogs, see Santa’s magic photo album, and more … your pet can even send her own message to Rudolph.

Ho, ho, ho.


Arf, arf, arf.

photo by Sadie Hart via

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    That video by John Lewis has me crying now! Oh, that is the sweetest clip! The site is quite creative and interactive for kids too. Some of those jokes are pretty cute as well. I bet Stella and Mia have already sent Santa their wish list. And I bet, a certain Nanny Jane has been reviewing the lists too!

  2. Adorable and clean cut. I am sending this off to all my friends with kids and grandchildren
    I especially love the silly knock knock jokes! There is a lot to see so I am still exploring.
    By the way I had a ( late) friend who was a professional Santa. Real long pure white hair and beard,… the works.He dressed in red ,white and green and wore his santa boots all year long. He collected antique quilts and vintage and antique Christmas decor so we would go to the flea markets. Boy, you should have seen the reaction whereever we went. It was so much fun- always! Oh and he actually legally changed his name to Santa C. Claus and he actually had a real driver’s license with North Pole , Alaska as his real address. What a hoot he was !

  3. Tanya says:

    can I share this post with my homeschooling group?

  4. Bonnie ellis says:

    Cute! Thanks Mary Jane.

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poetry in motion

Just because it’s so daggum, mind-bendingly pretty:

It’s a kinetic sculpture by artist Derek Hugger, who says, “I have a passion for mechanisms and an insatiable urge to solve mechanical puzzles. I like to sweat the details.”

Reminds me of an old-fashioned clock, somehow, only the inner parts are the feature attraction. And it’s a hummingbird, hovering.

Tripping the art fantastic, wouldn’t you agree?

Check out more of Derek’s sculptures here.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow! This is poetry and art in motion like I have never seen. Simply beautiful and calming to watch.

  2. Wowie Zowie and I can’t even put together a jigsaw puzzle!

  3. Krista says:

    This kinetic sculpture is extremely fascinating. I would enjoy watching his sculptures move for hours. My favorite kinetic sculpture of his would have to be the Merlot design. The Merlot sculpture is so mesmerizing. I ended up watching the video a couple of times before I could finally pull myself away. What an outstanding talent this man has.

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Thank you, Farmer Froelich!

John Froelich was born on this day in 1849. Who? John Froelich.

John was the inventor of the first gas-powered tractor, an invention that dramatically changed the lives of farmers everywhere. Prior to John’s invention, farmers relied on either horse-drawn field equipment or bulky and dangerous steam-powered equipment that resulted in frequent fires.

Evolution of sickle and flail, 33 horse team harvester, cutting, threshing and sacking wheat, Walla Walla, Washington, 1902 via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Brunswyk via Wikimedia Commons

In 1890, Farmer Froelich tried something new: he mounted a one-cylinder gasoline engine onto the running gear of his steam-powered thresher. (Gasoline, or internal combustion engines were a new invention; Karl Benz, founder of Mercedes-Benz, had just designed the first automobiles in production in 1885.) With his experiment a success, he went on to found the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, and continued to work on his engine, but by 1913, he had sold only 20 tractors. That didn’t stop John though—plowing through adversity is something farmers know well. John continued to improve his tractor engine, and considered it a success when he sold 118 tractors in 1914 alone. He named his hit The Waterloo Boy and went on to sell 8,000 tractors by 1918, when plow-manufacturing company Deere & Company (later renamed John Deere) bought the company for over 2 million dollars!

The Waterloo Tractor Works, in Waterloo, Iowa, is still owned by John Deere, and is one of the largest tractor factories in the U.S.

Thank you, John, for your visionary invention.

  1. Where I live here in Amishland in Lancaster County PA, the Amish and old order Mennonites still farm with horses mostly. But you also see the very early tractors a lot. If your church gets more ” modern” you are allowed to use a tractor but it can’t have rubber tires, so you see the old antique ” steel wheel” tractors often.
    Thanks for telling us about the history of tractors.
    And MaryJane that is one of my favorite photos of you !

    • MaryJane says:

      Thanks Lisa. Funny thing is, I tried to take it myself for a couple of days, with a timer, but I never quite made it to the tractor in time. So on the third day, I had my SIL come and push the button on my camera in its tri-pod. Totally. Not. Staged:)

  2. Krista says:

    What an amazing piece of history. We have come so far in our evolution of the tractor. It’s amazing how Farmer Froelich’s simple idea of adding a gasoline engine to his steam-powered thresher would be the beginning of such a transformation to help farmers be more efficient. I love the pictures of the old tractors. They look so cool. I love attending the fairs here just to see the old tractors that farmers still have and use to this day!

  3. Bonnie ellis says:

    What a neat story. We had a John Deere after my uncle sold his Percherons.

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potty talk

Potty humor …

No, I probably shouldn’t.


Then again, maybe I should.

Dare I wallow in witticisms about … the loo?

Oh, darling, you know I do!

I promise, this might even be good for you.

(You know I care, and so I dare.)

But, don’t worry—this snippet of silliness isn’t off-color.

It is, in fact, rainbow colored.

So, yes, I’ll go THERE. To the Squatty Potty.

Do you dare?

WARNING: The following video advertisement for the Squatty Potty contains graphic images of pastel unicorn poo and a number of references to going “number two.” Watch at your own risk—or, perhaps, your own reward.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a funny clip on an actual important issue for folks! I know just where this little “ReadingRoom” is located ’cause I had to take a peek inside. I love the paint colors and curtains in the windows.

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    OH my goodness! A creative way to address and important issue. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this . . . it makes a lot of sense.

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    Oh, and I remember this “reading room” as well, along with the others there at the Outpost B&B. This particular one had an antique urinal in it with gorgeous pink peonies from the farm in it! 😀 😀

  4. Tanya says:

    Never watched this video past the first 2 seconds. Why did I today….who knows. And quite frankly….speechless!

  5. Shannon Hudson says:

    Oh my! Hilariously funny twist on such a huge issue, especially for Americans that eat SAD (standard american diet) foods. The fact that the ice cream was turning the kids’ mouths colors… well that is a whole different issue 😉

    I have not had the opportunity to visit the reading room yet. Maybe (hopefully) one day!

  6. Krista says:

    Wow! I am speechless! This video made me laugh. Who would think that a unicorn pooping rainbow ice cream would be of choice to advertise this product? And then to let children eat the ice cream…well that’s just…interesting. This will definitely cause me to look at play dough ice cream differently. I can’t say I have heard of this issue but the more I think about it the more I can understand why it makes sense.

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Cricket, anyone?

You know that when you send your kids off to college, they’ll get the chance to broaden their horizons in many ways.

Self-discipline? Check.

Social experiences? Check.

New ideas and philosophies? Check.

Sports and recreation? Check.

Gastronomic adventures? Check, check!

Especially if they’re attending the University of Connecticut, where one innovative purple food truck is serving up everything from Asian tacos to …


photo, U Conn’s

The aptly named “Food for Thought” truck is serving “organic, GMO free, and earth-friendly” roasted crickets as a topping for their popular Asian Tacos—or for an adventurous few, as a crunchy snack. After a week of offering free samples to anyone willing to try them, UConn’s Dining Services reports that they’re selling two to three containers of the crispy critters a day.

The crickets are sourced from Next Millennium Farms, who strive to lead a new “protein revolution” and “raise” an estimated 30 million crickets at any given time. Now that’s a lot of chirping!


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    While I appreciate the need to find more sustainable protein sources for our planet, some how I am totally turned off by the idea of eating crickets or any other bugs for that matter. Can we just stick with lentils and beans?

  2. I like my crickets singing in cages like the orientals do- they are for good luck

  3. Karlyne says:

    I’ve always thought that I could eat bugs as long as they’re dead and ground up, like in a flour of some kind. But I watched a special a long time ago that showed a people (I think in the Amazon?) pulling live, wiggly wormy things out of a log and eating them while the legs wiggled out of their mouths. Isn’t it amazing how our cultures shape our thinkings…

  4. As much as I appreciate that humanity needs to get off the animal food train, I find that using insects could raise problems similar to what we are already experiencing which is “How They Are Prepared” and “What Other Ingredients” are being added to the preparation. For example, if the insects are being roasted in some type of oil, we already know that oil that has been heated becomes rancid, changes its chemical signature, and becomes a toxin when ingested, since the body’s digestive system is not created to turn rancid oils efficiently and safely into nutrients the body can use. So, insects = YES, but rancid oil still = NO. But if we find safe methods of preparation for ingestion, then a big YES.
    milka – (mantra: The-Best-Is-Yet-To-Come)

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