Journeys of Dr. G at Tyler Arboretum

The sabbatical project continues, exploring all that Tyler Arboretum has to offer

Leave a comment

Pumpkin Days 2013

It finally arrived! Tyler Arboretum’s biggest event of the year – Pumpkin Days – was held October 19 & 20. The weekend was packed full of various “edutainment” opportunities, with all proceeds benefiting the Arboretum and supporting continuing educational programs and conservation efforts – clearly, a win-win day for all involved!

DSCN2571Pumpkin Days had a little of everything for everyone. I saw several kids walking around with their faces painted while painting pumpkins, playing games, and watching balloon sculptures being formed before heading over to climb in to Stubby the Traveling Helicopter (thanks, American Helicopter Museum!). Families were enjoying making their own scarecrows and taking hayrides, while I saw everyone enjoying the Penncrest High School Pep Band perform. I was even able to catch some of the Baywings Falconry show!

An event such as this takes an enormous amount of planning by the Tyler Arboretum staff, and staffing by all of the wonderful volunteers that give their time to supporting Tyler’s mission. (Did you know it takes over 300 volunteers to help host Pumpkin Days???)  I assisted on Saturday morning with getting people from the buses that brought visitors over from the Penn State Brandywine parking lot through the cashiers to go off and enjoy the beautiful fall weather we were having. It was fun to chat with old and new member of Tyler, as well as first-time visitors to the Arboretum – they certainly picked a great day to visit!


I’m looking forward to my next visit on Saturday, November 2, when I’ll be speaking at the meeting for the Pennsylvania Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation, hosted by Tyler Arboretum. It should be a very informative day, celebrating all of the work being done to preserve and protect the American chestnut. You can learn more about the meeting at the TACF website.

Leave a comment

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies for Pumpkin Days

I spent some time this morning baking pumpkin cookies for Pumpkin Days at Tyler Arboretum.  When my husband, came home this evening, he decided to jump in and make some cookies as well.  If this were a cookie throw-down, he would win the battle – I can’t compete with his dessert-baking skills in the kitchen.  In fact, this same recipe for his cookies won in Drexel University’s Faculty/Staff Dessert Competition a few years ago (he teaches chemistry at Drexel).

So, if you are looking for some “award-winning” cookies at Pumpkin Days, try the

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

(courtesy of Dan King!)

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 extra large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (or any other type of chip, such as white chocolate, butterscotch, etc.)
10 ounces of another type of chips (he used dark chocolate chips for the second type of chip)
5 ounces dried cranberries


1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, the sugar and the light brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and the eggs until smooth.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips.

3. Using a small ice cream scoop, drop the batter onto a greased or non-stick cookie sheet, leaving about 3 inches between cookies for spreading. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until brown around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before removing to a rack to cool.

Dan's multi-chip cookies!

Dan’s multi-chip cookies!  The orange chips were in a bag of Nestle Toll House Halloween semi-sweet chocolate and orange colored morsels.

Again, cookies and other baked goods can still be dropped off at Tyler Arboretum on Friday!  Learn more about contributing your baked goods here.


Pumpkin Cookies for Pumpkin Days

I spent this morning not “at” Tyler Arboretum, but instead doing something “for” Tyler Arboretum – baking cookies for this weekend’s Pumpkin Days celebration!  Pumpkin Days is the largest event Tyler hosts each year and is filled with everything from hayrides to scarecrow making to pumpkin painting.  With the beautiful weather forecast for this weekend, I can’t wait to spend the time outdoors in such a beautiful setting, volunteering my time at the event as well (Why not join me???  You can volunteer for a half day on Saturday or Sunday, and then spend the other half of the day taking in the festivities – sign up today!).

But back to the cookies… at Pumpkin Days, Tyler has a bake sale!

This is our biggest event of the year, and revenue from delicious bake sale donations helps support Tyler’s gardens, natural areas and educational programs. Cookies, brownies, cakes, breads and cupcakes are all needed and pumpkin-themed treats are especially popular.

With the “call to bake,” I started looking for an appropriate-themed dessert, and while digging through my recipes, I came across the perfect recipe from – believe it or not – my Junior High School days!  Yes, I kept all of the recipes from my home economics classes in the 7th and 8th grade from Plainville Junior High School in Plainville, Connecticut.  I’m sharing this simple recipe here for you to try yourself (especially if you end up purchasing my cookies at Pumpkin Days and want to make them for yourself!).  This recipe is quick, simple, and a great way to involve family members in the baking process.

Pumpkin Cookies

DSCN25482 Tbsp. shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 beaten egg
1/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
dash ginger

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add egg.  Add pumpkin, mix well.  Gradually stir in flour, salt, spices, and baking powder.  Mix until smooth.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Yield: one dozen.

(I actually quadrupled the recipe and hoped to get four dozen, but my yield was only three dozen.)


Check it out – Dr. G’s most awesome pumpkin cookies!

Note that YOU can still bake something and drop it off at Tyler today (Thursday) and Friday! Learn more about contributing your baked goods here.

See you (and/or your baked goods) at Pumpkin Days!