It’s Movie Time


drive_in_speakersWhen I was a kid, going to the movies was a Big Deal. My brother and I had to bathe first and get into our pajamas while Mom made popcorn. Dad would load sleeping bags and pillows in the back of our station wagon (in case we fell asleep). Then we’d head to the drive-in movie theater to see a double-feature. We didn’t go very often, and I remember it being a big treat.

Here’s the interesting thing: I have almost no recollection of any movie I saw (other than Old Yeller, which scarred me for life). I remember with clarity the speakers hooked to the window, the feel of comfort in my sleeping bag and pillow as I snuggled next to my brother, and the salty taste of popcorn.

Seeing a movie today just isn’t the same. Most of the time, my family waits for it to come out on Netflix because our schedules are too busy to get to the theater. Or we’ll watch something On-Demand. Nowadays, if one of us wants a bathroom break or to ask a question, we can pause the film. Sure, I can wear my pajamas if I want to, but I’m at home so it’s no big deal.

Perhaps seeing films outdoors brings back these vivid recollections of being a kid, when going to the movies was something special. Maybe that’s why I love going to see movies in the community. In Old Ellicott City, The Wine Bin shows free films throughout the summer, beginning this Memorial Day weekend. You bring chairs, picnic blankets, kids (in pajamas or not), popcorn, and beverages. You can see classics, and share laughs with your neighbors and see friends, old or new.

Take time this summer to get outside and see a movie. Share memories of your childhood with your kids — and make memories for them. Look for me — I’ll be the one in the pajamas, laying on a pillow!

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Easy Halloween Door Hanger

With a rare afternoon at home with just my little girl, I was looking for an easy fall craft she and I could work on together. I came across this picture on Etsy. It reminded me of similar letter door hangers I had seen before and inspired us to make our own for Halloween. A quick stop by the craft store while running errands and we had everything we needed.

Materials required:

  • Wooden letters. You could spell out any number of words, but three letters seemed about right for my 4 year-old’s attention span. Our craft store sold black letters, perfect for a Halloween decoration,
  • Ribbon and ribbon wire. I did pull out my Bowdabra (purchased many, many years ago and still works great) but you could easily tie the by hand as well.
  • Glue and novelities to add (my daugther choose the sparkly spiders)


  • We began by using the ribbon to tie the letters together.
  • Then we tied a ribbon loop at the top of the “B” as a hanger for the decoration. We secured a bow at the top too for a little extra sparkle!
  • Finally, we glued our spiders to the two “Os”
Halloween Door Hanger

Halloween Door Hanger

In three easy steps, and less than 30 minutes, we had made our own Halloween Door Hanger together. Now, if I can just get the glitter off of my dining room table before Halloween!

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The Maryland Buy Local Challenge Starts Today!

Did you know that every year the Southern Maryland Agriculture Development Commission issues a Buy Local Challenge to all Marylanders? The challenge is to eat at least one locally grown or raised product every day for a week. This year’s week starts today!

And what a perfect week to take this challenge. With so many delicious foods in season, this will be a piece of cake! Or perhaps, a slice of watermelon, a ball of cantaloupe, a basket of blackberries, an ear of corn, or dare I eat it, a peach? So head out to your local farmer’s market or roadside stand today and stock up for the week.

Need some inspiration for what to do with all of that fresh, local produce? Check out the official Buy Local Challenge cookbook. I know I will be having the Cucumber and Watermelon Salad with Maple Thyme Vinaigrette this weekend!


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Scoring Baseball the Traditional Way

A recent article in The New York Times on hand scoring baseball games had me reminiscing about my youth and wondering why I had not shared this tradition with my son. For those of you not familiar with what the article references as a lost art, hand scoring baseball games involves recording every play on a paper scorecard using a set of traditionally accepted symbols and notes. For example, a strikeout is recorded with a “K” and I was taught to record walks as “BB” (base on balls). In addition to the standard symbols, many scorekeepers develop their own supplemental shorthand. Baseball programs typically have a scorecard printed inside and most stadiums will have a small pencil available with the program as well.

Baseball Scorecard

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It is rare these days that I see someone, usually an older gentleman, taking score in the stands, small pencil in hand, intent on the game. But whenever I do, my mind immediately jumps back 25 years to when my Dad taught me this ‘secret code’. More common back then, hand scoring the game made me feel very grown up and special, not every kid knew this secret code. It also helped me understand the nuances of the plays and kept me engaged on the game. Later on, I would help various softball coaches hand score our games, as one of the few players who knew how.

 Then, sadly, I forgot all about hand scoring. Reminded by the article, I am inspired to pass along this tradition to my son! He enjoys watching baseball games, however, simply watching can’t keep his attention for 9 innings. And I think the allure of knowing a ‘secret code’ will greatly appeal to him. Plus, this might be just the thing to keep him in the seat instead of running to the concessions stand for junk food, begging to play a carnival game or visiting the playground. At some of these fancy ballparks I can’t help but wonder if the kids know there is a game being played!

Share with us your experience! Do you know how to hand score baseball? Who taught you? Have you passed along the tradition to anyone else?

If you are interested in learning to hand score, check out this page on MLB’s website.

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Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

When we visited Lake Tobias Wildlife Park this spring, what started out as a way to break up a road trip to Elysburg, PA turned into a great adventure on its own. I asked my parents, who are originally from Pennsylvania, to recommended a place to stop on our drive from central Maryland to Knoebel’s Amusement Resort. They suggested this zoo which they had visited many years ago.

 Because my parents’ recommendation was at least 20 years old, we arrived at the wildlife park with modest expectations, hoping for a space to stretch our legs and clean restrooms. We figure that if we didn’t like the park, the $6 admission fee per person wasn’t a huge risk to take. What we found was a lovely small zoo, with lots of room to roam, located in rural Halifax, PA. There was plenty of free parking, the staff was very friendly and during our weekday visit there were no crowds. For the small admission fee, our family enjoyed wandering through the animal exhibits, seeing a short (and air-conditioned!) reptile show, petting some goats and trying out three different playgrounds.  The biggest excitement of the visit was when a goat decided to nibble on my skirt! Because we did not plan to stay long, we decided not to pay the additional $6 to take the open air Safari Tour. This also gave us the perfect excuse to come back again next year.

Lake Tobias

 If you visit the park, I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes, bringing sunscreen and a camera. At the park there is a small concession stand where you can get food and drinks, but I suggest packing a picnic and enjoying it alongside their small lake, complete with swans and shade trees. Most importantly, bring along some extra quarters to buy animal feed – those goats are hungry!

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