Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Guess where I am going?

This morning I bought my tickets to see Imogen Heap in Norfolk, VA. It will be my first time seeing her perform and I am so very excited. I decided to take Emma with me because she has recently been listening to Imogen and I know she really likes her style. She's very excited to go to this alternative, out of the norm, concert too. Imogen is so far from mainstream that in Emma's eyes, that makes her cool. Actually that equals beaucoup points in my book too. It's exciting that Emma is into music and this will be a really wonderful experience for us to share.

Every once in a while I connect with an artist and feel like her words are my words. Imogen has that ability and I can listen to her for hours and when I am in that place of contemplative thought her music can help me work through it. She also has a very happy, bubbly side too which I love because what is a connection if it doesn't encourage you to experience all emotions. Music is such a huge part of my life - so much to feel and to experience. Speaks to my soul.

So for any of you that have no idea just who the fabulous Imogen Heap is... I hope to introduce you to her amazing voice and style below. These are just a sampling of some of my favorites. By the way, Imogen plays ALL her own instruments (mostly synthesizer and piano) and has quite the technical setup at her live shows. Woo Hoo! I am a happy girl! Squee!

This is one of my all time favorites! :)

Her voice is have to listen to this...

Live version of one of my favorite songs... this song is so relevant to my life... love it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is there anything more sinister...

...then Cadbury Mini Eggs? They are my favorite Easter candy (next to my beloved black jelly beans) and I am thankful they make an appearance for only a few weeks every 12 months. I assembled the girls Easter baskets buckets today and of course Minis Eggs were part of the deal. Once I opened the bag I knew that would be the end. I was able to exhibit some sort of control but it has been hard... they are calling me. They are sinister indeed! I hope you are having better luck with the Easter candy than I am.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Last weekend in March

Another weekend is wrapping up. Steve was up in New England visiting with friends so the latter half of my week was busier than normal for me. Field hockey practice, errands, carpooling to the Friday night dance, grocery shopping and work made for a busy Thursday and Friday. Steve came home Saturday night but he did miss seeing Emma's field hockey team win two games in a row on Saturday morning. Emma played pretty well... she still has to continue her commitment on following through with the dribbling and taking the ball all the way. She is enjoying her team and teammates so much this year and I know she is having a good time and more importantly getting better at the sport.

After the victories on the field the girls and I went to see 'How to Train a Dragon'. It was in 3D. The fascination with all the run of 3D movies over the last 2 years is interesting. Sadly, I am not a huge fan of this technology... it's OK and some effects are cool but I think I rather not see the 3D version. The girls were just psyched to have the glasses and we did not turn them in at the movie's end.... yep, I let them keep them. When I pay $33.25 for the three of us to see a matinee movie, I think we own those glasses... some complimentary popcorn would be nice too but I won't hold my breath. Oh, the movie, 2 thumbs up. It was wonderfully cute and the dragon, Toothless, he reminded all of us of Kanye.

Today has been super low key. I slept in until 9am. Sundays are the only days I can do this and I usually decide against it but today was not one of those days. As a rule I think sleep is a waste of time and not to be overdone but this morning was a different story and sleeping in felt good. We did not go to church this morning because of our late start but when I did get up I vacuumed, cleaned the hardwood floors, did laundry, watched Angels and Demons, and had a lovely breakfast. The girls have been playing together all day so it has been rather quiet. Steve and I did some yard work and now it looks as if the rain is ready to come. For the next 2 hours I am going to chill out, listen to Imogen Heap's sweet voice, catch up on some of my favorite blogs, drink this oh so tasty margarita and let Steve make dinner... sounds like a fabulous way to end the weekend.

Photos from our weekend

Hello? Working!
What is it with cats? Kanye loves to plop himself down right on top of my paperwork when I am working. He is lucky I adore him.

Hydrangea... so love them. They remind me of summers in New England.
They certainly are cheering me and the kitchen up.

The Kiwis
Emma's field hockey team. They all love Ellie and wanted to hang out with her. She felt so special.

Amy, Kiersten and Emmy
Emma and her friends.

Field Hockey Action
Action shot... Emma is in back by the goal.

Cool Girls
The girls sport their new 3D glasses after our showing of 'How to Train a Dragon'. They are standing next to the Marmaduke movie prop... this one isn't in 3D! Thank Goodness!

How cute is this little gnome?! Cannot wait to plop him in between the Coneflower or Verbena. He was only $7.00 at Lowes.

First frozen margarita of the season... I think Steve was a little too generous with the tequlia... this baby is strong.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh what the fresh air can do...

OK I am back to my happy place after yesterday's rant. After watching the happenings in our country and dealing with the build up of pressure and disappointment the world can sometimes bring I find it necessary to go and unplug for awhile. Today Steve and I took a drive over to one of our local parks and went for a walk. Rockwood Park is only 15 minutes away and has a really cool educational nature center and many trails to explore. You can take a paved trail or be more adventurous and take the gravel ones that are less traveled. We decided on both.

The sun was shining and we were able to just walk and talk and like I said, unplug from the madness. Recharging and getting outside is so important for your mental health; we both needed it. As we walked we spotted a Northern Flicker and a Hermit Thrush. I successfully snapped a photo of the Thrush but the Flicker was just too quick for me. I was also standing in mud when I spotted him so I was distracted by my muddy sneakers...(I am not a fan of mud you know!) We also saw several turtles and I had my first butterfly sighting of the season. Now that's my type of therapy!

Hermit Thrush
beautiful Hermit Thrush

Mr. Man checking out the scene

Rockwood Park
One of the paved trails at Rockwood State Park

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Totally Disgusted...

Normally I will write about family life and what's happening in my little part of the world on this blog. I want to remember it all so I can look back years from now and recall what was going on. Well I guess I have to remember the bad things that are outside of my world sometimes too. I don't want to live or relive this but I have to post it to keep things real and to voice my concerns for where this country is headed.

We live in a hateful country. Yes, there is a lot of amazing goodness out there. I have seen it first hand through Ellie's illness but there is also a lot of controlling, angry people that are bullies and the farthest thing from Christian that I can think of. The media can askew things to their advantage at times but this below is the truth and the video below that just speaks for itself. I am really disgusted with the anger, name calling and intimidation that I am seeing. I am proud to be a Democrat and if someone doesn't want to be my friend because of that, then so be it. I really could care less. I think this Republican vs. Democrat crap is out of hand. The judging, the finger pointing and name calling... it has to stop. I am not saying either side is perfect - far from it but how can it keep going on like this? Our country is so close to imploding on itself. It's all very sad and I just hope peace and the true love of Christ can wash over all this anger and hatred and make us come to our senses.

Abusive, derogatory and even racist behavior directed at House Democrats by Tea Party protesters on Saturday left several lawmakers in shock.
Preceding the president's speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.

A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a 'ni--er.' And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a "faggot," as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president's speech, shrugged off the incident.
But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

"It was absolutely shocking to me," Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. "Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday... I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins... And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus."
"It doesn't make me nervous as all," the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. "In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else."

Asked if he wanted an apology from the group of Republican lawmakers who had addressed the crowd and, in many ways, played on their worst fears of health care legislation, the Democratic Party, and the president, Clyburn replied: "A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this is not about health care a all. And I think a lot of those people today demonstrated that this is not about health care... it is about trying to extend a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Like sand through the hourglass....

Life continues to roll on by - like it or not. I do find myself enjoying 'the moment' more but man the days go by way too quick. I am in my forties, I have been married for 18 years and I have a teenager... how did these things happen?? It seems like just yesterday that I was an oddly dressed 6 year old with bad hair playing on the playground of Glenwood Elementary School in Clinton, Connecticut running around with my BFF Barbara. We were loud, proud and so carefree and we didn't care who knew it. Now I am in the middle of my life and I carry on the tradition of being oddly dressed at times but with much better hair. Barbara still remains my oldest friend and on occasion we are loud and carefree when we get some things really do never change. But my point is that it is all going by too fast. Oh how I wish it could linger a little longer and I could make the moments stretch farther. Watching my girls grow into young adults is just precious and I want to soak it all in. I worry about missing out on things, events, moments...but life tends to pull me in all sorts of directions and it can get crazy. I know everyone is feeling the same way. Thank God I am aware of how valued this time is and how necessary it is to create memories and preserve them with photos and the written word. I don't want to forget anything. I want to capture it all because I know it will be gone in the blink of an eye.

With that said we had a memorable weekend. Another life triumph of good memories to mark down and lock away. The beautiful weather stayed all weekend and on Friday my mom and I met up for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and then we enjoyed a little shopping. Saturday the girls and I headed into downtown Richmond to see the musical 'Wicked'. It was their first play and they were both mesmerized. I believe they will now become Broadway junkies enthusiasts and when we visit NYC next time we will make sure we have a Broadway show penciled in on our itinerary. Ellie surprised me the most. She certainly loves a good story but I was worried that three hours could be a bit long for a 7 year old. When I would look over at her, she would be wide eyed and she was either at the edge of her seat transfixed or pressed up against the back intently listening to every word. She loved the singing and dancing and special effects. Emma loved it too and she asked me several times if they were really singing because it was that good. There was a live orchestra in the pit and it was great to watch them perform as well. We had balcony seating, front row, dead center. Couldn't ask for better seats, they were perfect. After the play we met Glinda and Elphaba (the wicked witch) outside for photos. Of course I normally bring my camera everywhere but decided against bringing it into the theater just in case I was violating some privacy rule - I didn't want to schlep back to the car to return it. Sadly the photos I have with the two actresses are from my camera phone and are a pitiful quality. After the play we went and had Italian ice and chatted about our favorite parts of the was a good day.

Yesterday I went for a much needed pedicure. I can now wear flip flops again. Woo Hoo! When I returned from pampering my toes, Ellie and I took a stroll down to the lake and around the neighborhood. We had her class mascot with us. It was her turn to take care of Freddy the frog. He joined us on our walk. After our walk we enjoyed our first tick sighting of the year (blech) and then I was forced to watch 'New Moon' with Emma. It was her second time that day watching it and she insisted I stay and watch the entire thing. I didn't even have a cocktail or painkillers but I managed to survive.

I have lots of photos to share of our memorable weekend and I am recharged and ready for another week. Bring it on but bring it on a bit slower so I can linger just a little longer...

Spring Blossoms
the trees are in bloom... so love this time of year!

Freddy the Frog
Freddy the frog and the daffodils

Everything is greening up

Nature Walk with Freddy
Ellie and Freddy are amazed to hear Freddy's cousins calling from the lake... ribbit ribbit ribbit

Our signed playbill from Wicked

me and those growing girls

Sweet Eleanor
So cute...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This week with the girls...

Ellie was chosen this week to be 'Star of the Week' at school so we made a poster board that showcases her life in photos. She loved looking at all the younger did I. She is such a beautiful child inside and out.
Star of the Week
Emma is deep into field hockey practice and is getting ready to head out to a practice in this photo. Games start this weekend. Woo Hoo!

Field Hockey

Monday, March 15, 2010

I ♥ faces - Bundled up!

The I Heart Faces challenged this week is called 'Bundle Up'. It's been more snowy than average this winter but I cannot recall it being really cold...except for a handful of days. So...this is our best bundled up pose. Tucker our dog is keeping Ellie warm too.

Tucker and Ellie

Sunday, March 14, 2010

and so another week ends...

This week went by all too quickly. We experienced wonderful spring weather and I was able to take a nature walk to the lake. I sat by the beaver pond (which does in fact have a resident beaver or two)and enjoyed the slow awakening of life that this time of year brings. As I skimmed the surfaces for life, I heard a Pileated Woodpecker call and several Red Winged Black birds singing to one another. A Ruby Crowned Kinglet flitted right over my head and danced on the branches above me. Too close and too fast for any decent photo. A four pack of the ever present Canada Geese were swimming by not caring a bit how close I was to them and in the distance a Merganser couple flew off into the late morning sun. There were also two Great Blue Herons by the waters edge but as I made my way through the brush they also flew away. Sometimes Herons will let you get close but most times they will look cross eyed at you, honk loudly and fly off in a totally disgusted manner. They're charming that way. The turtles were also out sunning and plunking into the water as I got closer. I usually hear them sinking back into the water before I ever see them. They also must be annoyed with me since the fight over sun exposure on logs is at a premium. If I were a turtle, I wouldn't leave unless someone was in the water and about to grab me. It was great to spend a few hours soaking it all in. So love this time of year and I haven't even seen any frogs yet!

Eastern Painted Turtle
Eastern Painted Turtle waiting for me to leave so he can reclaim his spot on the log.

Swans at the Lake
Beautiful Swan couple on the other end of the lake way far off from me.

Back at home I did see Bluebirds and Chickadees inspecting both of our nesting boxes. We have been fortunate to raise several broods last season so I am keeping my fingers crossed for some nest building to take place soon.

This week I also launched our new line of melamine plates and laminated placemats for Tickle Bellies. Reviews have been wonderful and so far the sales have been off to a great start. Releasing new items is always fun and invigorating for me. I am also doing a logo design for a past customer. I created her logo years ago and now due to a name change she needs a new look to go with the new name. I made a choice a few years ago not to do any logo or custom work because I was getting too many offers and couldn't handle both things well but I couldn't say no to her when she inquired a few weeks ago. I must say it's kind of exciting to be doing custom work again.

Over 20 new plates and placemats debuted! Woo Hoo!

Today the weather is going to be off and on with rain so the girls and I are going out shopping for Spring/Summer clothes. Emma has grown so much this year that very little fits her from last season. Ellie's summer wardrobe needs some spicing up too. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Queen of the World

Another fabulous day yesterday. I went for a nice long nature walk and then came home to work. Wonderful combination. While we were on our drive to school yesterday Ellie told me she would love to drive with her head out of the sunroof someday. She said she just saw this on TV. I told her that wasn't safe (ummm or legal) to be driving and doing that but that we could be parked in the driveway and I would let her do it. She thought that was great. So here you go...

Queen of the World
'I'm Queen of the driveway World!'

Monday, March 8, 2010

sowing the seeds

We enjoyed fabulous spring time weather this weekend. It so put me in the mood for planning the flower gardens. But before any of that can happen I need to thoroughly clean up the planting beds and get everything ready for our mid-April planting dates. Yesterday I picked up at least 100 or more pinecones from the backyard. They are the big fat ones that prick you with their sharp little pointy ends. I am wise to their ways by now and there were no life threatening injuries. I guess I could have worn gloves but that would have been too easy. A good tip with pinecone pick-up is to save them for your large container plantings. I fill a large planter almost half way up with pinecones before I place the potting soil in. This makes the planter weigh a lot less when you are moving it around to find the best spot for it in your landscape and you save money on potting soil by not needing as much. It's a green tip that I love.

This season I am going to try my hand at starting some perennials by seed. I have wanted to do this for a while but never got ready in time. Most plants need a 6 week timeframe indoors when started from seed before they are big enough to be transplanted outside. This year I am in the right timeframe and purchased the trays and seeds and tomorrow I will scatter the seeds and pray for lots of growth. Since this is my first go at this, I am starting small. I have Foxglove, Purple Coneflower, Lavender and a smaller variety of sunflower that Ellie selected. The new trays make it seem fool-proof so I am expecting big things!

This tray has 72 soil cups for seeds and I have some bigger containers for the sunflower seeds because I know how quickly these will grow and how big they will get.
I hope my results match the photos....wouldn't that be great!
(look it says GUARANTEED to GROW on the bottom of the packet ~ just like sea monkeys and we all know what happened there!)

In addition to the seed and soil trays I bought my first garden/patio magazine of the season. Like a dangerous street drug - I am addicted! I love outdoor rooms and seating areas and there is such inspiration within these pages. Nothing like stone pathways, terraces full of beautiful patio furniture and container after container of colorful plants to make me happy. These magazines aren't cheap either so I have to really be in love with the photos and articles. This one was a good investment!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

She melts my heart

Drawing by Ellie
sigh....she just makes me happy the way she sees life. I love that little girl!

Another thing I am loving.... just take a look at these temperatures.... 65 sunny degrees today and the next few days to boot! Hallelujah!!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010


Yesterday I had a jillion errands to do and today I got to bask in all the goodness of my many chores. First the Cat in the Hat costume was a success. Ellie looked super cute for her Dr. Suess parade this morning. Her costume took little to no effort on my part (yea for that) however I totally forgot about the big red bow tie and failed to make one...but other than that snafu she looked splendid. All of the first graders were precious and so very creative.

Steve returned home early this afternoon from Tennessee and picked up my newly fixed and working laser printer from the shop. Now I have three workhorse printers and...and... the best part... the price to fix it was $55 less than what I thought and $375.00 less than what HP originally quoted me for repair. So love keeping money in my pocket for a change.

We picked up all of Ellie's Girl Scout cookies yesterday and we are hoping to have the majority of them delivered this weekend. I enjoyed 2 Samoa cookies this afternoon - my absolute favorite Girl Scout cookie.

I did go to Hollister for Emma yesterday but as I suspected, no going out of business or moving sale. Turns out she had the location wrong and I was to go to the one on the other side of town. I decided not to buy anything for her since there was no super sale and at the normal Hollister prices, I wasn't going to guess what shirts and hoodies she may be want because guess who would be schlepping back to Hollister for an exchange... me that's who. Really don't think she needs another Hollister sweatshirt or shirt anyway... she has quite the collection as it is.

I loved the episode of The Office last night - Dwight just cracks me up. Sadly I fell asleep during the Marriage Ref so I will have to watch the rest online. I did watch my recorded episode of Project Runway while preparing dinner tonight and it was fabulous. The garbage bag outfit was incredible and I thought Myla was going to explode when she wasn't proclaimed the winner. I also whole heartedly agreed with America's decision last night to send home those four from American Idol. They were the ones that needed to go. Keeping hopeful the talent will improve but I am not holding my breath.

Last bit of coolness from today is that I partnered with an up and coming online company that is going to have a really great promotion for Tickle Bellies in April. I am also releasing my new plate and placemat designs this weekend on the site. Woo Hoo!

Me and my girl
My sweet little Cat in the Hat :)

Cat in the Hat
Ellie, Cat in the Hat or Flavor Flav??

Dr. Suess characters!
Ellie's class all assembled in their Dr. Suess finest.

Inventory time
Kanye is in charge of Girl Scout cookie inventory

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I don't want to be a worker bee

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

~from the poem Against Idleness And Mischief
by Isaac Watts

I feel like that busy bee...especially today. Lots of errands to accomplish this morning. I, like everyone else, generally like to be busy but I like to be busy at home on my own turf. Busy with work, laundry, cleaning, gardening - that sort of thing. But today I have to schlep all over town going here and there, up and down, near and far, east and west. First thing to do after dropping Ellie off at school is to track down materials for a Cat in Hat costume. (Now you get the Dr. Suess reference). The first grade is celebrating the birth of Dr. Suess this week and tomorrow there is a big Dr. Suess parade. Ellie's first character choice was the Cat in the Hat so off I go looking for whatever materials will bring that to life. I have 'Thing 1' as a back-up since that costume is super easy to pull together. I then have to go drop off ink to the guys that are fixing my beloved laser printer. I already bought a replacement printer to replace the ailing one but I am so loyal to this one that I couldn't just recycle it to the land of lost printers. After that on the list is grocery shopping followed by a quick run through Hollister for Emma. Word on the street is that Hollister is closing and there is a huge ginormous sale. This is all from Emma and friends so I am sure I will walk in there and they will not be closing and there will be no deep discount sale. I 'pinky promised' so I have to check it out. When will I learn not to 'pinky promise'.

I then have to get home for a conference call and process the orders that have to get out today. I also have to remind myself to let Mr. Jangles out (the cute little mouse that gets himself stuck in the bird food bucket) and take Tucker for a walk. Then Emma will be home, we will pick up Ellie, go and pick up the hundred or so boxes of Girl Scout cookies that she sold, go get dinner and come home for homework. Steve is in Nashville for work so that is why he is MIA in this post and I sound like an overworked single mother.

I am looking forward to unplugging and channeling my inner Queen Bee tonight as I settle in to watch the Office (the baby is coming!) and the new Jerry Seinfeld show 'Marriage Ref'. I happened to watch the first episode of this last week and thought it was so clever. I do love Alec Baldwin and he was a guest so maybe that is why I love love loved it. I do have to first watch American Idol with the girls to see who gets the boot. Personally, I think this is the worst season I have watched. Really only one or two that I can tolerate. By the way, I still haven't cracked open any of those books I was talking about in an earlier post... The wonders of TV still have me sucked in. Will I ever escape? ooo...and I almost forgot.... season ending to the Houswives of Orange County. This is getting embarassing...

Monday, March 1, 2010

20 More days and counting!

Happy March! 20 more days to the official start of Spring! Yahoo! Steve and I have lots of garden plans, including a new custom pond in the back. We have been wanting one for a while and I think we can tackle this project this Spring. We aren't really the 'do it yourself' type but I know we can do it and who knows this may open the doors to a whole new 'do it yourself' world for us. I also want to do some perennial seed planting which I will be starting very soon so I will have plants ready to go in the ground when the all clear frost warnings have past which for us is around April 15th. I believe 6 weeks is the suggested time frame for seeds to sprout and grow to a decent size for ground planting. There are so many flower varieties to choose from that I don't know where to start. I have to get a plan under way this week. Fun Fun!!

Spring is my absolute favorite life all enjoyable, inspiring and invigorating. Our winter was long but for some reason it didn't drag on like past winters have. Normally by now I have major cabin fever and am itching for warmer days but this year I am just going with the flow and enjoying it all.

This weekend I enjoyed perusing the list of winners and finalists of the 2010 Bloggies awards. Here is the link. Definitely lots of good reading to be had!