Spring’s Awakening

As March approaches and the temperatures begin to steadily increase above freezing, each facet of the natural world begins, once again, to come back to life in their own ways. Among them, the song birds commence their morning serenade, snow drops bloom, trees bud and American toads make their way to the surface of the earth.

For those who take the time to enjoy spring’s awakening, it is glorious. You don’t need a country landscape to appreciate the new beginnings of spring; you just need to step outside your front door. Even in the densest urban neighborhoods, nature exists- a greening patch of grass, song birds on a wire, a budding street tree or kids returning to the playground.

In Philadelphia, nature revitalizes each neighborhood, park, forest, arboretum and farm. Yes, you read that right, all within the boundaries of the city. It is inspiring the way nature brings a city alive with color, music, and fragrance, all intertwined with the hustle and bustle of its everyday.   However, there are incidents the city’s need to get to its destination as quick as possible will interfere with nature’s need to get to its destination as quick as possible. Unfortunately, nature cannot slow down and take a detour, but we can.

Take that emerging American toad for example. Just as the Monarch butterflies instinctively make their way back to Philadelphia from as far away as Mexico, the American toad can travel for months to a suitable water source where they can mate.

Although this migration happens anywhere you find a toad, in Northwest Philly, there is a mass migration that happens every spring for the toads, and again six weeks later for their toadlets, between the Roxborough Reservoir and the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. But like many greenspaces in the city, it is segmented, and the toads must cross busy side streets to get to their destination. This challenge often turns the toads’ mass migration into a mass killing of toads.

Luckily for the toads, there is a group of toad-loving people at the Schuylkill Center who also emerge in the spring to spend their evenings from March through June, ensuring the toads and toadlets are able to safely cross the road. This is known as the Toad Detour. These volunteers patrol for the first signs of migration, which often occurs on the first warm, rainy evening. When the toad begin crossing, they set up road blocks, catch toads outside the blocked areas, redirect traffic, and educate neighbors on the importance of toads in their neighborhood.

Sounds crazy right? Well, I often think of the toads and those volunteers in the spring and summer when gardening or front porch sitting.   

While humans may negatively impact the life and habitat of the toad, toads are nothing but beneficial to humans. For gardeners and farmers, toads are a natural pest control. They eat what eats our gardens and crops, keeping insect and invertebrate pests under control, including those mosquitoes that invade our evenings outside.  

That being said, the more toads saved, the more there are a benefit to us.

So, saving the toads isn’t as crazy as it may seem.

Joining a Toad Walk or volunteering for the Toad Detour is a unique experience. To watch and help hundreds of toads (and thousands of toadlets) cross the road and continue to negotiate barriers that separate them from the reservoir’s safe waters, is inspiring. And if you can’t imagine what hundreds of toads looks like, I invite you to stop by and witness it for yourself.  It is also really quite peaceful to visit the reservoir during the mating time and listen to the trill of the toads as the sun sets. You can even see Center City from one special spot through the trees.

Nature never ceases to amaze me. Every day, provided I slow down and take a second to look around, I witness some natural wonder, even in the dead of winter. But spring’s awakening is special in and of itself as life returns to every facet of the natural world.   

For you readers who are not in the Philadelphia area, I would love to hear your favorite signs of spring or if there are any groups or events similar to the Toad Detour that support the wildlife in your area. 

Toadlets Everywhere!

You might also like:
Spring: So Close, Yet So Far Away

The Wyck Rose Garden

The Wyck Rose Garden dates to 1824 and is widely recognized as the oldest rose garden in original plan in America, with 70 cultivars of old roses currently. Included in the garden are the original rose plants from the 19th century design, as well as plants from the earlier, 18th century kitchen garden. Several old roses in cultivation today had been thought lost until they were discovered growing at Wyck, and all specimens of these varieties in commercial trade descend from Wyck plants. Beginning with Rosa spinosissima in early May and ending with Rosa moschata in late October, Wyck’s heritage roses are remarkable for their beauty as well as for their fragrance, which fills the garden. Wyck is a rare wonder for garden lovers and an important repository of plants that have disappeared from other historic gardens. Visit the Wyck Rose Garden at the Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm during Rose Week or Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 1st- December 15th and Fridays during Market Season (June- November).

There is no better subject then a rose who only blesses the world with its beauty once a year.


Moralers’ Chilly Night Chili

This is a recipe post, I promise.
For the past three years, I have been part of an amazing group of people who have experienced tragedy and heartache and found the strength, courage, wisdom and honesty to not only survive it, but to the make it their mission “to raise awareness of the Four Diamonds Fund in every community that [we] run while bridging the gap between the patients on Marathon Avenue and the students at PSU THON.”

It’s impossible to explain what The Hope Express really is. Technically, it’s the dream of the Angus Family that has evolved into a year-long effort to raise funds and awareness for the Four Diamonds Fund with the finale being a 135-mile Hope Team and 140-mile Extreme Team relay run from the 7th floor of the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA to the THON stage at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, PA, carrying letters and art from the children at Hershey who were too sick to attend THON.

But how do you really explain the essence of a spirit greater than words?

The Hope Express is unique to each person whose life it touches. Individually we hold it in our hearts, as we are spread throughout the United States living our lives, fighting through the difficult days and rejoicing in the good ones. And somewhere in the busy everyday, we prepare for our yearly journey- raising money, networking, raising awareness, caring for the kids, planning, etc. And when that one day each year finally arrives, we all come together (the founding family, drivers, runners, moralers, Four Diamonds’ children and families, doctors, and many others) to embark on our 135-mile/140-mile journey over the next 24 hours, For The Kids.  

But let’s go back one week to the weekend my team, the moralers, gather to put the finishing touches on the many facets that make up The Hope Express. The is the weekend that the moralers, those that are responsible for keeping everyone spirits up, receive our final boost of strength, courage, wisdom and honesty needed to carry their runners and drivers through the night and onward to State College.

Together we glue, paint, glitter, construct, organize, decorate and create. We are inspired by stories from Four Diamonds families and their children, who have survived cancer and together with siblings and friends, help us to help kids who still have a lot more fighting to do.

One tradition of the weekend is for everyone to bring a special dish or snack. It may be regional, seasonal, homemade, or a little something picked up en route. As we gather, share, eat and talk, we learn each other’s personal stories of Hope and prepare our souls for the next week’s momentous run.

Moments like this, on any occasion, are often shared over a good meal.  I think that is what makes taking recipes and making them your own so special. These recipes are made with care and nourish the body and the soul alike. They are then put in a little box for safe keeping to one day be passed down, both directions and memories.

This is the recipe for Moralers’ Chilly Night Chili, which the special dish that I bring every year to Moralers’ Weekend. It is simple, classic and can be manipulated in a variety of ways so that you can create your own signature chili. Enjoy.

 Moralers’ Chilly Night Chili
  •  24 oz Fresh or Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • 16 oz Gravy (Tomato Sauce) 
  • 1 pack Extra Firm Tofu or 1 pound Choice Ground Meat
  • 3 Fresh or Frozen Bell Peppers
  • 1 large Chopped Onions
  • 1 cup Frozen or Fresh Corn  
  • 1 Chili Packet Mix or a Mix of Choice Spices
    • Suggestion: 3 tbl Chili Powder, 1 tsp Cumin, 1 tsp Black Pepper, Salt, 1 tbl Tabasco sauce
  • Garlic
  • Choose two (or three or four) canned beans totaling 16 oz
    • Kidney Beans
    • Black Beans
    • Pinto Beans
    • Garbanzo Beans
Optional: Craft beer is always an option in my recipes.

Optional: Because the heat index is a personal preference, the above will be very mild. For more heat, add chillies, additional chili powder and spices, or a variety of hot peppers.
The measurements above are guesses and suggestions. My cooking and recipe writing is very old fashion. I don't measure what I add, I just add what I like and list the ingredients. If you have any suggestions or additions for ingredients or measurements (or anything) please comment. I would love try them.  

  1. Brown and chop the meat or tofu
  2. Put everything together on a crock pot (can be made stove top if with meat)
  3. The amount of each ingredient of entirely up to you. More of what you like best, less or none of others. I usual put a 16 oz can of diced tomatoes and try to evenly distribute everything else to about a cup each.
  4. Add spices and stir thoroughly
  5. Cook in a crock pot on medium for 4-5 hours or until the taste and texture is as you like it. I suggest eating it next day to give all of the flavors to come together.
Garnish: Shredded cheese, sour cream and/or green onions
Leftovers: Try using left overs on hot dogs, or in a taco or quesadilla.

 There is only one week until Moralers' Weekend, so photographs to accompany this recipe are coming soon!

Think Summer!

It's that time of the year, again!  The weather is cold outside, but it's time to think summer. Just close your eyes and picture it- sunshine, shady trees, song birds, blooming flowers, ripening gardens, lightning bugs, green grass between your toes... can you see it?
Now imagine all those summers days through your child's eyes and they becomes simply magical.
Your child can experience this summer magic in a unique summer oasis in the city. In Historic Germantown, as busy city life hurries all around it, there is a certain white-washed fence that stands unassuming in the middle of it all. But behind this fence is a historic homestead that has stood for 323 years. This homestead is the setting for a summer of fun in the sunshine, under the shady trees, and amongst the blooming flowers and ripening garden. Your child can have it all at the Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm summer camps.
Summer is my favorite season for all the above reasons and summer camp is my favorite time to teach. There is a certain feeling of freedom that the kids experience when they are at camp. Us teachers feel it too.  No school, no homework, just play. But little do they know they are learning and growing- socially, emotionally, physically and academically- while they are creating, planting, cooking, laughing, exploring, etc. Teachers call it learning through play, the kids just call it play but we all will remember it as fun. And as the years go by and the kids grow up, they will look back and see it as magical.   
Below is more information about the summer camps at the Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm in Philadelphia. But no matter where live, there is a camp near you that will provide your child with that magical feeling of a summer in the natural world, even in the middle of a city.

Please comment below with the city and information for your favorite camp and why you love it. Thank you!   
For more information, pricing or to register click here or contact Christina Moresi, Youth Education Coordinator, at 215.848.1690 or cmoresi@wyck.org.

Wyck welcomes donations of any amount to support our camp scholarships. Email Christina at cmoresi@wyck.org for more information.
For fun, visit and follow Wyck's education and summer camp pin boards.
For a glimpse into Wyck's summer camps, like Wyck on Facebook and view 2012 camp photos.

 For more Art. Nature. Service. like 3 Black Cats / A Godmother's Love on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest. 


Fun, Simple Ways YOU Can Help CONQUER Childhood Cancer- For the Kids!

Childhood cancer is a darkness that not only ravages the bodies of children, but every physical, mental and financial aspect of their family. It is from that darkness that the Four Diamonds Fund and the Hope Express were created and with them, the belief that childhood cancer can be conquered, the hope that is brought to families, and the generous gifts that have made miracles.
“The Four Diamonds Fund was established by Charles and Irma Millard after the death of their son, Christopher, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11. The Four Diamonds is named after a story that Chris wrote shortly before he lost his battle with cancer at the age of 14. In Chris’ story, a knight must find the Four Diamonds of Courage, Wisdom, Honesty and Strength in order to be released from captivity by an evil sorceress. These Four Diamonds are symbolic of the traits Chris believed were necessary to overcome cancer."
The Four Diamonds offsets the cost of treatment that insurance does not cover, as well as expenses that may affect the welfare of the child. The Four Diamonds supports the medical team that cares for the children and funds pediatric cancer research through start-up grants and the Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Institute.” (www.thon.org)

Below is a complete list of Philadelphia Chapter, Liberty Ball and The Hope Express events and fundraisers that benefit the Four Diamonds Fund. You can support the kids by donating or joining events in Philly or virtually from anywhere. Every donation and/or support given to any event, no matter how small, will make a big difference to a family whose child is battling cancer.   


Believe. Hope. Give

Before The Hope Express leaves Hershey February 14, 2013, the Hope Express Moral Team need your support and donations to help us reach our goal of $7,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund, in care of The Hope Express Moral Team. All donations go to The Four Diamonds Fund and the THON total and will support the groundbreaking cancer research at the Hershey Medical Center and provide financial assistant to families, allowing them to focus on their child’s needs.
or email me at agodmotherslove@gmail.com as where to send a check. All donations must be received by February14th. Every donation, no matter how small, will make a big difference to a family whose child is battling cancer.


February 22nd

Summit Park Community Support THON

Join Penn Staters and members of Summit Park Communities as they raise money for THON at Summit Park's annual fundraiser.
The event will be held on Friday, February 22, at the Summit Park Clubhouse (8201 Henry Ave.), from 8:00 p.m. to midnight.
The $20 entry fee includes an open bar and a live DJ, along with access to a 50/50 raffle and silent auction. Anyone 21 and older is invited to attend.
For more information, visit www.libertyball.org


March 9th

The Liberty Ball, A Knight for theKids

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, in partnership with the Montgomery County Chapter, proudly hosts The Liberty Ball, A Knight for theKids.
Saturday, March 9, 2013 ~ 7:00 pm to Midnight
  • World Cafe Live ~ 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • Tickets are on sale now! http://www.libertyball.org/tickets.html
  • Limited time offer - All tickets are $130 each 
The Liberty Ball is an annual event held in Philadelphia that raises money and awareness for the mission of conquering childhood cancer. All proceeds benefit Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) and the Four Diamonds Fund at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey PA.
For more information visit www.libertyball.org or https://www.facebook.com/libertyball
Ongoing/ Year-Round

Shop for Hope

Bottle Cap Magnets-http://agodmotherslove.blogspot.com/2013/01/shop-for-hope-bottle-cap-magnets.html?m=1

Proceeds benefit the Four Diamonds Fund through The Hope Express.

Past Events

A special THANK YOU to everyone who graciously supported Liberty Ball, The Hope Express, Four Diamonds Fund and most of all, THE KIDS!

Celebrating Hope for the Kids at Mad River Manayunk- Thanks to your support, $130 will be going to the kids!

Friends, Fun and Hope: Hope Express Fundraiser at the Twisted Tail. Thanks to your support, $705 will be going to the kids!

Liberty Ball Winter Quizzo - Thank you players for playing and Field House hoast and donating prizes. The $5 entry fee and $1 from all drink sales support the Four Diamonds Fund, through Liberty Ball. For tickets to Liberty Ball, visit www.libertyball.org

"Heather Manning, Pampered Chef Consultant, is teaming up with The Hope Express!"

"Lauren Morgan, Thirty-One Consultant, is teaming up with The Hope Express!"  

Hope Express Jamberry Fundraiser

Moraler Jenn Schweighauser is hosted a Mary Kay fundraiser for Hope Express. 45% of the retail sale went go to Hope Express! Click here for the catalog or email her at jennifer.schweighauser@gmail.com to shop Mary Kay and continue to support Jenn.

Super Bowl pools w/ Runner Matt Huber and Moraler Molly Thomas

More Links for More Information


Liberty Ball, A Knight For The Kids (Philadelphia’s black tie optional benefit for the Four Diamonds Fund. To find the Gala in your area, click here.)



Fresh Breath Bull Dog Bites


Fresh Breath Bulldog Bites

  • ¾ c All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ c Whole Wheat Pancake Mix
  • ¼ cup Mint
  • 1/8 c Milk
  • 4 Tbl Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tlb Broth
  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. In a food processor, mix milk, egg, mint, and broth until the mint is finely chopped.
  3. Pour the ingredients from food processor into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix throughly.
  4.  Roll into balls and flatten with a fork.
  5. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.

PB & P Bull Biscuits

 In Autumn, it seems like there is an explosion of everything pumpkin. I love pumpkins. They are fun to grow, fun to teach with, and especially fun to eat. My favorites are pumpkin pie, pumpkin coffee, and pumpkin beer (which is delicious in Beer Brownies). So why not a pumpkin dog biscuit?

Bull loved the Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits, so in an effort to create a similar recipe with fewer ingredients, I did a little research and came up with this recipe. Like most of my other recipes, I read reviews and pulled ingredients from many other recipes to create a good base that can be manipulated however you like. Well, however your dog would like.  If you have any additions or suggestions, I would love to hear them. Enjoy!

    PB & P Bull Biscuits


  • 2½ cups whole wheat flour*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (or squash or sweet potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I prefer chunky. Bull doesn't have a preference.)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin spice
  • Water as needed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon
  3. Turn dough on a floured surface and knead until no longer sticky. Add flour or water as needed.
  4. Roll out the dough as thin or thick as you wish. Cut into pieces or with cookie cutters.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until hard 
  6. Turn off oven and let sit inside for 30 minutes and transfer to cool on a wire rack or leave in oven to cool over night 

2 weeks in an air tight container
4 weeks in refrigerator
6 months on freezer

*If you suspect or know your dog has a wheat allergy, use a wheat-free substitute.