Sunday, May 30, 2010

In the yard

Saturday afternoon a beautiful and very ancient looking Eastern Box turtle was making her way back to the creek through a neighbor's side yard. She was cruising at top speed when I caught up to her. I hope she was able to lay her eggs somewhere and that they will hatch and also make their way back to the creek safe and sound. Have I mentioned how I just adore Spring!

Ancient Face
Interesting markings on this turtle. Look at her claws... so prehistoric...and those eyes.

When we spotted the turtle Ellie and I happened to be outside comforting this baby Titmouse that careened into the window. He was fine just needed to chill out for a bit and shake off his dizziness. Ellie spotted him on the ground after he flew into the window and ran to get me because our cat Dodge was also outside. Dodge would have loved to play with this little feather ball I am sure. Ellie was so proud of herself for saving him. She said 'Mommy, I love being a nature girl just like you!' Now we were both beaming with pride.

Baby Titmouse
Where are my parents! No one told me about those window things! Jeesh!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The fruit theme continues...

Last week we headed over to Ellie's alma mater, the Goddard School. She started going to school there when she was 2 and finished up when she was 4.5 all prepared to begin her elemenatary school education. The Goddard school has been so wonderful to us, especially when Ellie was diagnosed with cancer. They felt our pain so deeply and shared our faith and hope for recovery and healing. Last week they had their summer carnival that benefited St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Through Ellie's journey as a St. Jude patient they witnessed how crucial and neccessary St Jude is and they do what they can to fundraise and create awareness. So Ellie was very excited to kick off one of their trike-a-thons. She certainly is a wonderful representative for this hospital.

On your mark..
On your mark, get set... GO! Ellie and Ms. Anne kick off the trike-a-thon at the Goddard School.

Today Ellie stayed home from school. She had a bit of a cough and was tired because we had several hours of thunderstorms last night that left us all tossing and turning. So I told her she could start her holiday weekend early. She was so glad to be home to answer the door when the Edible Arrangement delivery guy came over with a big Hello Kitty arrangement just for her. Compliments of the Goddard School, thanking her for helping out with their fundraiser. (we should be sending them gifts actually!). Happy Memorial Day! Woo Hoo!

Hello Kitty fruit bouquet
This was the cutest surprise today!

Ellie is a Hello Kitty fan and this balloon is almost as big as her.

Edible Arrangement for Ellie
How cool is this? And...tasty!

Hello Kitty Pineapple
We may feel guilty about eating this pineapple Hello Kitty but I think we will get over it. ;)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Perfect day for a smoothie

All the fruit is in season and bursting with flavor. smoothie2
Pineapple, strawberry, blueberries, a little banana, OJ, ice and a blender and your tongue is in heaven.

This blender is so old and mixes up Steve's famous chocolate milkshakes about 3 times a week. These shakes rival those from Haagen Dazs. Seriously.

Fabulous day, fabulous view and now a refreshing fabulous drink...perfecto!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dear Jesus-

When are you coming back to get us? Is it soon? I think we are ready. We are sadly making a mess of all the beautiful gifts your Father gave us. We don't seem to care about making things better. Money, greed and selfishness keep getting in the way. Please hurry.
XO- Colleen

The oil spill in the Gulf makes me boiling angry and then very, very sad. I don't understand why this is taking so long and why that arrogant and ill-equipped company is still in charge. They are not getting anywhere and they keep saying it isn't that bad. Huh? What? Apparently British Petroleum thinks we are a nation of self-absorbed idiots... who knows maybe we are. Actually, I know we are.

We should be outraged over this. The oil spill needs to be streaming on TV 24 hours a day. I still recall when Anna Nicole Smith killed herself died and the news coverage was over the top. It was all day, every day for at least a week and really why do we care about that? We have our priorities so confused regarding what is truly important in our world. So tell me, where is the news coverage of the birds covered in deadly oil? The thick sludge washing up and all over pristine wetlands? The investigative reporting to uncover why this happened? The long term (and yes this will be for years and years) effects of what this means and why can't anyone put a stop to the leak? How hard is it to plug that up? I know the fix is beyond what I can comprehend but there should have been some plan in place that worked by now. It has been 35 days of oil flooding out and contaminating everything.

The Obama administration really needs to step it up. I have to say I am saddened and frustrated over the lack of commitment as far as the response from our government. BP needs to have more help, more direction. I know things seem to be out of control in our lives in 2010 - high unemployment, healthcare, recession, war; there's a lot to deal with but this is important too. It will have such long term effects. It makes me so sad and disappointed. I just don't want to sit here and complain about it either. I would love to get involved. Tell me what to do, how I can help?

Here are photos that need to be seen regardless of how upsetting they are. These are all from and Getty photographers. A picture speaks a 1000 words.

A dying Egret surrounded by toxic oil

Oil tainted marsh lands where Brown Pelicans nest. Disgusting

Look how saturated this pelican is. They will have no chance.

A worker runs his hand through the water and this is what comes up.

Hermit crab covered in sludge on the beach.

Aerial view of the devestation

1000s of birds nest in the Lousiana wetlands. We are slowly and painfull killing them with this oil. Heartbreaking and so preventable.

Monday, May 24, 2010

weekend tidbits


Signing Ellie up this week for Hip Hop class and summer school

Reading 'The Middle Place' by Kelly Corrigan

Tired this Monday from a fun weekend

Thoroughly enjoyed 2 Long Island Ice Teas and 1 Cosmos on before mentioned fun weekend

Laughed, cried and then laughed a whole lot more with good friends Saturday night

Slept in until 10am on Sunday

Almost sat on a grey tree frog that was sleeping under the bench cushion

Grey tree frog then climbed up my arm and peed on me before hopping onto the tree

Bought a cool air hockey table at our neighborhood yardsale Saturday morning

Sat in bed with the laptop reading IPad reviews to see if we should purchase one

Brought Emma back and forth to her friends house 3 times in 2 days

Saw Shrek with the family and love how Steve and I will catch each others eyes as we marvel at the wonders of Ellie being here with us as she sits between us munching on popcorn and giggling

Making mental notes that moments like that are what my life is all about

Realized IMAX is not all its cracked up to be at double the normal movie ticket price

Watched the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice and was glad Bret Michaels won

Proudly watched Ellie signal the start of the St Jude trike-a-thon at her old preschool

Smiled as I watched Emma and Ellie bounce and perform crazy aerobatics in the bounce house at the Goddard School

Enjoyed watching a cute chipmunk forage in the woods on the other side of the creek

Said a prayer for cute chipmunk that Dodge does not eat him

Perused the new Brighton jewelry catalog and saw lots of nice things I would like to have

Spotted an Indigo Bunting in the yard

Got to catch up with a girlfriend on the phone

Watched a quick thunderstorm roll in Sunday night while Ellie and I played basketball

Ate the best blueberry pancakes Sunday morning compliments of Steve

Ate the best grilled cheeseburger Sunday night compliments of Steve

Watched two hummingbirds sip from the Texas Sage and said a silent wish that they stay here for the summer

Told myself that the back garden was looking the best it has in the last 5 years which makes me very happy

Humbled and appreciating all of it and of course thanking God each day

Friday, May 21, 2010

Carolyn's Garden

I took a road trip today about 30 minutes away to a little place in Mechanicsville VA called Carolyn's Garden. My friend Carol told me about it and she raved that the perennial selection was fabulous and the prices were affordable. Boy, she wasn't kidding.

I started down I-95 right after I dropped Ellie off at school and I must say I had a really enjoyable drive once I got off the main route. There were several horse farms and old houses dotting the scenery and no one was behind me for most of the drive so I could drive like a Sunday driver on Friday. I had not visited Mechanicsville before but with that name I guess I wasn't expecting too much. It's nice to be pleasantly surprised. Along the way I spotted a Baltimore Oriole flying in for a landing in a pine tree. Woo Hoo! He was gorgeous and I hardly ever get to see these birds. I am so loving my drive through this little town!

As I approached the gardens the road narrowed and the woods grew thick. I went down the gravel driveway and entered into Carolyn's Gardens and heard a Peacock calling in the distance. I was then greeted with happy barks from the 7 or so Sheltie dogs that the owner breeds and then I saw a woman who I assumed to be Carolyn standing off to the side waiting to welcome me. Carolyn and her husband retired and bought this land, then cleared it and started their gardens and then finally built their home. She only grows perennials, no annuals at all. The gardens are about 18 years old and just overflowing with beautiful plants everywhere. To the left of her yard you will find all the plants that are in the ground and on the right side are all the ones that are dug up and ready to sell. I was the only customer when I first got there so I was able to talk to her and learn more about the gardens and ask some questions about certain plants. She was a wealth of information and wonderful to talk with. She was like an old friend already.

After our talk I walked off on my own with my little red wagon that I quickly filled up two times. I bought several Black Eyed Susans (to replace the ones around our mailbox that we had for years that mysteriously disappeared), several Fever Few, a hydrangea shrub, 2 foxglove plants, Agastache, several shade loving perennials that are in the Astilbe family that I cannot remember the name of now, one large Hosta, Texas sage and several succulent plants for the screened in porch (hen and chicks, jobibarvs and some other cool ivy succulent all in decorative little pots). The perennials were all in large containers and were quite big and hardy. When Carolyn tallied up my purchases I had to pay out a whopping $88.00. What? I definitely would have spent $188.00 for all of that at our local nursery and I am sure it wouldn't have been as healthy. The other thing I loved were what I kept calling 'bonus plants'. Because her garden is not in any particular order and things grow all over the place, I was happy to notice that many pots had a totally different perennial starting to grow. I got home Friday afternoon and spent the rest of the day in the garden. That was my kind of day! Thank's Carolyn, I will be back again for sure!

Carolyn's Garden
A view of Carolyn's Garden from the shade area. It was super sunny (and there were major bugs out) so I didn't take many photos in the sun. Beyond the arbor was where all the in the ground plants were.

Yellow Primrose
Yellow Primrose. So cheerful and happy. I don't have many yellow plants in my garden but these were really tempting.

Covered in Duck weed
Found this guy in hiding in the Duck Weed in one of the water ponds.

They really do sit on lillypads!
I was happy to see that they really do sit on lillypads.

Carolyns' Garden in Mechanicsville Va
Another shot of all the shade loving perennials. Hostas are what Carolyn's is known for but there was also a lot of Astilbe and Hydrangeas too.

Brown Dragonfly
A brown dragonfly was providing me with good luck. Thanks buddy!

Roadside Friend
I stopped to visit with one of the horses from the many horse farms that I passed. He was beautiful until he sneezed all over me.

Family plot
In between two farms there was a small cemetery from the beginning of the century. If I were to be buried - I couldn't think of a nicer spot to spend eternity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Backyard Friends...

We have new visitors to our backyard. A Mallard couple have been hanging out by the feeders for the past several days. They eat up all the birdfood that has fallen to the ground and then they head off to the creek for a dip in the water and then they return for naptime in the backyard. I hope they decide to have babies. That would be so very awesome! So love fuzzy little duck babies!

The Mrs. is turning out to be quite bossy and she and I have something in common; our dislike for squirrels. I get so much pleasure in watching her hiss and chase them around. Those squirrels would take right over if it wasn't for someone keeping them in line. If the squirrels were smart they would work in numbers against her. God knows there is an army of squirrels in the backyard on any given day. New recruits were added this week as the baby squirrels have emerged from their nests. Oh Joy! The little guys are kind of cute but there are way too many of them and they have to learn everything the hard way. They are getting into everything. One fell into my big bag of potting soil the other day; they panic at the slightest hint of danger and awkwardly run into each other (seriously I have seen some head on crashes.); and as they say in the south - 'Bless his little heart' - there is one poor little soul that unfortunately did not recieve the memo that we have squirrel resistant feeders. He just keeps falling to the ground below. He gets back up and tries again. Persistant little buggers with just a teeny mix of cuteness for good measure. Hopefully they will win Mrs. Mallard over because at the rate they are going she is going to have snapped off some of their tails by Memorial Day.

She has a certain air about her doesn't she? She is not about to put up with any squirrel nonsense...oh no, not her.

If I could just figure out how to get this lid off - Maybe try number 10,502 will be the charm!

Funny, this doesn't smell like a flower and I sure love mashing my feet all over this fragile plant. Good times - yessiree!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Snapshots from the weekend

Mama Robin
We have nesting Robins in our River Birch Tree. The momma was busy all weekend keeping three bellies full .

Baby Robins
They aren't the cutest things but I am sure glad they nested in our tree.

Backyard Swingtime!
Ellie enjoyed some swingtime Saturday afternoon.

Ellie Amy Emma
Emma spent the night at her friends and then the next night her girlfriend stayed over our house. I didn't see much of Emma all weekend.. (they just woke up in this photo which was late morning because as you can see, Ellie is already dressed and ready to start her day)

Corn... it's what's for dinner!
CORN! It's whats for dinner!

Perfect way to spend
Binoculars to watch who is at the feeders, great magazines, some lemonade and a few hours on the screened in porch....heaven!

Newly planted orange Zinnia and hot pink verbena - love it!

Big Bloomin' Clematis
This Clematis is 7 years old and has lived in Maryland and Virginia. It's the tallest it has ever been this season and loaded with blooms

MULCH! Steve picked up the truck and a load of mulch. Always smells good and helps keep the flowers moist.

Back garden
Back garden after the mulch was spread

Ellie went to her schools spring carnival earlier in the day and in this photo she is chillin' out and munching out on some M&Ms and showing off her face painting.

Saturday night Steve and I took a walk down to the lake. Perfect night to watch the dragonflies, otters and soak in the amazing aroma of the Honeysuckle.

Any bugs up here?
This little guy was on the family room window Saturday night...

How do you do?
Sunday Ellie and I headed to the garden store on our way to visit grandma. She posed with this cute little frog.

Gnomes were everywhere
Gnomes are the biggest trend this season. They were everywhere.

Rows of Color
Look at all those colors. So love Springtime flowers!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Relaxed and Happy

We arrived in Richmond around midnight last night from Memphis. The flight was bumpy but we met a new friend on the plane and I enjoyed a great conversation with this older woman who was battling cancer herself. Ellie did some stargazing for a little while out her window and then fell asleep and thankfully slept through the turbulence. She would have just enjoyed the ride anyway instead of like me hoping and praying for us not to drop out of the sky into a field or river thousands of feet below. Prayers were answered yet again and the plane wheels touched down and delivered us safely to the gate. Speaking of answered prayers... I am sure all of you know by now that Ellie had CLEAR, BEAUTIFUL, FREE OF CANCER scans!! Steve and I were so relieved and I feel more excited about the upcoming summer months now. We understand she is in God's hands at this point and there isn't much we can do but it certainly is wonderful to hear the good news from Dr. Gajjar and the relief in knowing we don't have to think about this for another three months is fabulous. Yahoo!

I awoke to dreary skies and cooler than average weather this morning - perfect for sleeping in late. We allowed Emma to stay home today since she was out late picking us up and we all slept in to at least 9am. Our St. Jude trip was great but they are always emotionally draining so it felt great to be in my own bed with no pressures to get moving early.

This weekend the weather is supposed to be very nice with warm sunny skies so we are looking forward to getting out in the garden. I think big piles of mulch are in our future. I took a little inventory stroll this morning of the gardens and the Peony bushes were assaulted with pouring rain and wind yesterday so they are looking quite beat down. Don't know if they can recover. There were big branches and pine cones all over so the thunderstorms yesterday must have been pretty impressive. The deer nibbled down 4 of my Astilbe plants to a quarter of their size. There are blooms all over my Texas sage. The clover is trying to get an edge on me in the front garden. I pulled out all their little roots this's a never ending battle with these guys. The catmint is all abloom and looks lovely. All the container plants are doing well and I am eager to add a few more containers this weekend. My favorite new plants are Zinnias. I know they are not new but I don't recall using them before and this year I am loving them!

I didn't take too many photos at all on our 4 day trip to Memphis. I did take a few though...

Dr. B
We saw Dr. Bihkazi in the cafeteria on our last morning. He was getting his breakfast and helped Ellie make her wheat toast. After we parted ways and Ellie was eating her toast she told me it was her 'Love Toast'. So cute this crush she has on him. (I think I have one too)

Sending Love
Ellie and I did some arts and crafts in between appointments. This is a clay heart we made.

Ellie and Alejandro
Ellie and her buddy Alejandro. He is a fire cracker and so very cute. He has relapsed with Medulloblastoma (brain cancer) but will be on a new protocol that has a lot of promise. Best of luck little guy!

Monday night we headed over to the Dooners to catch up. They are our Memphis family and we just adore them all!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The outdoor scene

I am so busy working this week getting all orders out the door so I can go to St. Jude tomorrow with a clear work conscious. We were suppose to be at St. Jude for 5 days but I think I may have managed to shift things around and cut it back to three and a half. That would be wonderful! I took a work break the other morning and enjoyed an outdoor stroll to take some photos. The gardens are looking good and my clematis, well, somehow it got hold of some growth hormone and is growing out of control. I think it needs one of those big arbor trellis things... it has already run out of room for climbing and wrapping and twisting it's tendrils. I will have to get a photo soon.

Please say a prayer (or two) for Ellie's visit to St. Jude and that she has good news and remains cancer free! Thanks :)

Peony Bush
The Peony bushes are blooming. So love them and these big, heavy beautiful blooms

The Peony blooms do not last long enough. Two weeks is not enough time!

Front garden
This is part of the front garden. Only perennials and it is looking really full already this year. The sun was not my friend on the other side so I couldn't get a decent pic of it all. I will do that soon.

Wave Petuina
Purple wave Petunia... gotta love them and how easy they are to care for.

Patio View
View of the patio from the side deck. I can sit here for hours with a drink, a magazine and my binoculars to check out all the wonderful things in the yard. Definitely my happy place!