Sunday, September 11, 2011


Hello! I have had a super full schedule the last few weeks with school and work and unfortunately blogging has taken a back seat. That bums me out so I am going to try to post more often. I suppose I should start with is September 11th. A tragic day for all Americans. Because we are at the ten year anniversary, there have been many documentaries and specials on TV highlighting different aspects of this day. I have been engrossed, watching many of them. New footage, untold stories, heartbreaking sadness. Definitely an emotional time. Praying this never happens again and learning from this day and being reminded yet again, how precious life is.

One special documented the actions of two selfless heroes From Tower 2 that helped save dozens and dozens of lives while ultimately sacrificing their own. Another show followed the children of 9-11 who were all born fatherless soon after 9-11-01. It was so heart warming to see the photos of the children now at age 10 next to a photo of their father. The resemblances were amazing. Cannot imagine what they have had to endure and it is heartbreaking. I watched a show about Al-Qaeda and how much hate Bin Laden had for us and how that hate just grew and grew and traveled from person to person in that organization over the years. Scary to have that much anger and evil feelings for something or someone.

This morning I watched the tribute at Ground Zero. The huge water fountains where the towers stood are beautiful. I hope to visit on our next trip to the city. After that, I watched the movie about United Flight 93. Can you imagine knowing you were going to die in a plane crash and having to call those you loved to say goodbye. I always say I am ready for Jesus to return and be done with this life but that actual moment -it must be so intense. ABC news had footage with this Beyonce song and the song really moved me. It not only reminds me of all of the people lost on 9-11 but of all the children {and adults too} that have died from cancer. Gives me chills. Amazing lyrics and truly all anyone wants to know is that their life mattered in some way. That they were here.

Since I promised to be better about blogging... this week I will have the girls photos from back to school as well as sharing about an opportunity to see President Obama. How exciting!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Earthquakes & Hurricanes... that's how we roll in VA

To say the weather has been a bit crazy this past week may just be an understatement. We started the craziness off on Tuesday. Emma and I were working in the studio, Ellie was watching a movie in the family room and Steve was in Nashville. All of a sudden there was a vibration sound and the windows started to rattle. I was thinking it was a military helicopter flying by our house. We are on some sort of travel path and often one or two of these large, low flying helicopters will go by and rattle the house. As I stood up thinking 'Just how many helicopters are out there because that is some shaking' it got louder and the ground began to violently shake. I headed out of the studio with Emma following close behind to find Ellie with a panicked look on her face. I said "We're having an earthquake" (which sounded extremely strange to say & hear) which quickly made Ellie burst out into sobs. I had to yell at her and tell her to calm down that it would be OK that I had to get us outside. As soon as we stepped outside it stopped.

Many of my neighbors were outside already and we all confirmed that we were OK and just what the heck was happening. Earthquakes in Virginia? Who would have predicted that? The only other earthquake I have experienced was in Los Angeles 3 years ago. That was a 5.5 and we barely felt it. This was much different. It was scary. My legs shook for about 45 minutes after the earthquake was over. I tried to call Steve right away but phone service was out. Oddly, after knowing we were fine and there was no damage, I knew Steve would have disappointment about missing out and not being here. He loves wild weather. Turns out the quake would rate as a 5.8 magnitude and it would be felt all up and down the eastern part of the US. It was centered about 35 miles or so from Richmond so I suppose that is why we felt it so strongly. Amazingly, not one frame or book or anything in the house was disrupted. Hard to believe because we were really shaking. There were a few aftershocks but I just felt one of them. I am hoping to never have to experience that again - once in a lifetime is enough.

All of the earthquake news, took center stage for the next two days but Hurricane Irene news was begging to be back in the spotlight and by Thursday she was. I am so grateful we live in an age of communication and technology and we can predict hurricanes and prepare for their arrival but man, the news loves to scare you silly. Our local news went back and forth I would say 4 or 5 times with "it's going to be really dismal for us in Richmond to we barely will notice the hurricane". All the models showed we were on the outskirts of the wind and rain so we weren't too worried. Storm chaser Steve secretly had his fingers crossed for bad weather because, well he likes that - but me, I was thinking long term and thinking about no electricity. And I certainly do not like that. So we did the normal storm prep things. Bought ice, charged every electronic device we own, washed clothes, stocked up on pop tarts and Steve went and bought a generator. What? Come again? I totally thought it was an impulse buy (encouraged by CNN and the weather channel) and we would be returning it right after the storm still safely within the walls of its cardboard packaging.

The storm begins to roll in early Saturday morning. The wind picks up and the rain is falling. There are a few wind bursts here and there but nothing really exciting. We watch North Carolina and the Outer Banks get pounded on TV. The storm creeping along at a snail's pace of 14 miles per hour is not expected to really affect us until late afternoon. So the afternoon was spent appreciating a gloomy day. I actually enjoy a storm and since we have had a very hot and dry summer, the rain is quite welcome. Steve and I cozy up on the couch on the screened-in porch and watch the wind blow and feel the rain lightly spray our feet. Around 2 pm the electricity finally flickers out and we are left in the gray afternoon without the hum of the air conditioner or the sound of the news filling our ears. The girls love a power outage so they run off with flashlights but as I mentioned, I am not a fan. It's fun for about 2 minutes and then I was itchy to get that generator up and running. I know, the irony. Within the confines of that box, my computer will work, the refrigerator will get cold again and we can have light. Open it up...OPEN IT NOW!

We decide to wait to see if the storm gets worse because we cannot see any real damage and the power may be back on soon. As the afternoon goes on conditions do actually worsen and it gets very windy. Tree limbs and leaves litter the yard. We can hear trees falling in the woods behind our house but nothing in our yard. Around 7pm, after the winds die down, we go for a drive around the neighborhood and witness trees down in many yards. We fared well at our house but many neighbors lost trees. Nice, decorative trees. We decide to get the generator up and running because it looks worse than we thought. Within 45 minutes, Steve has the refrigerator running and the big screen TV is reporting all the damage in our area. Emma lets out a big sigh and says she doesn't think she could ever make it for more than a few hours, she says this while hugging her laptop. Ellie loved the excitement of no electricity and using lanterns and candles but I am sure it would have gotten old pretty quickly. I decide I love the new generator even if it noisy and I am glad we are keeping it. The local news confirmed about 1 million people were without power in Virginia and it would be several days before it was restored. I loved the generator even more after that newscast. I am thinking we need to give it a name.. I guess Irene would be fitting.

That night we had the windows open for air circulation (it was getting hot!) and I did not sleep at all listening to the wind rage outside. I thought for sure the trees had had enough and they were going to start snapping and landing on my bedroom. It was a long scary night. By morning, it was over and the sun was shinning once again. Around 5 pm, to our surprise, the lights came back on. How wonderful! We were lucky because there are still many homes in central VA that are in the dark as I write this. It was great to get all the extension cords that were crisscrossing the house rolled up and put away and to sweep up all the leaves that made it into the house and vacuum it all up. The generator has a nice resting spot in the garage now and the piece of mind it brings knowing we are more prepared for disasters is comforting. Earthquakes and hurricanes in one weeks time... and we survived! Invigorating!

Ellie has her bug lantern all set to go when the lights go out.

Ipad & Irene
As the storm raged outside, I enjoyed a fun game of scrabble on the ipad. Thank goodness for battery powered technology.

I think Hummers like Hurricanes
The hummingbirds seemed to enjoy the rainy day.

Calm before the storm
Great place to watch the storm... that was until the sight of Pine trees bending way over scared us back into the kitchen.

Presenting the duke and duchess
Tucker is a good sport once the power goes out. He played dress up with Ellie

Burning down...
candles.... the staple of every good hurricane

Blackout Fun
Fun in the dark... Steve is quickly assembling the generator as we wait in the darkness

Back Porch
My vinca that line the stone wall took a beating. These are the before photos. Hoping the sunny weather perks them back up like before.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Game on...

I know, I know, I said I was going to post about Hilton Head... I will...I just have to finish all the photos first. Almost finished!

I wanted to share a photo of my beautiful daughter who will soon be entering high school. Tomorrow she plays her very first scrimmage as a high school field hockey athlete. She put the uniform on tonight to ensure it all fit and I almost cried... So proud of her and who she is growing up to be.

Emma sporting her Field Hockey Uniform
sooo grown up. happy & sad about that!

Ready for highschool
best of luck this season! ♥

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Going off the Grid...sort of...

I am thinking of making this blog private. Just feels like the way to go. I know there are 100s of people that visit each day and many are regulars that I already know. So... if you want to continue reading, please send your email address to me and I will add you. You can drop me a line at cbgrfx (take out the space between the "x" and the "@").

Next time - All about our trip to Hilton Head...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

the dog days are over

Well, hello August… second week of August at that! Heading into the final days of summer and I am getting a little excited for Fall and back to school time. It’s been a good summer, albeit a super hot one. I wonder when all is said and done if this summer will be hotter than last summer. I think it will be a tie. Last summer was a major scorcher too. Yeah, I am thinking that maybe it was a little hotter last summer. I am ready for the high 90's to be replaced with the mid 80's. Oh, and a breeze, I would like to put my order in for a nice breeze.

I have been in major work mode this summer. Lots of orders and designing and adding of new products – I am so grateful for this company and what I have created. Makes me happy and grateful. So… lots of work has been happening around here. This has left little time for nature walks and photography sessions. I miss that but I know come the fall and the cooler weather, I will be back out on the trail, camera in hand. We head to Hilton Head soon and I will of course be taking tons of photos but I am also really looking forward to just relaxing. On a chair by the pool. With a drink in my hand. Or on a blanket. With sand between my toes. And a drink in my hand. Oh and a spa day. That sounds like heaven. I'm relaxed just thinking about it.

Oh…. have to share, Emma made the high school field hockey team. So proud of her and that she is starting off her freshman year on the right track. It’s not easy getting up at 6am for practice while on summer break. So my hat is off to you Emma… you did it! Ellie is also making great strides with her reading. Her tutor has been great and she is doing well. She has been reading a lot more on her own. Her accomplishments also make me very proud. Yep, one proud mamma sitting right here.

As I mentioned not too many opportunities to take photos lately but I do have a few....

emma before heading out to practice

bumble bee in the front garden

me and ellie and matt dinardo on set for our st jude interview

lots of orders for back to school ready to head out

red-bellied woodpecker on the feeder

the girls playing air hockey

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Smurfin' new post

It's the second to last day of July. And. It is hot. We have been close to or over 100 degrees all week. Fingers crossed rain is on the way and some lower temperatures too. Tonight the girls and I went to see the Smurf Movie. So smurfin' cute. Steve was wavering about coming but he opted to stay home but I am thinking he would have liked it. It was funny. I am not smurfin' kidding.

So... let's see what have we been up to besides sweating.
  • Ellie & I taped a St . Jude interview with our local ABC station.
  • We talked about the upcoming Give Thanks walk in Richmond
  • It airs sometime in August
  • Ellie's last week of summer school is next week.
  • Emma is having her physical on Monday so she will be cleared to play field hockey. JV & Varsity team tryouts are August 8th
  • We leave for Hilton Head soon.
  • I don't want to even venture out of the resort we will be in.
  • It is an amazing place and I wish we were there now.
  • Emma and I were talking about friends and I realized how lucky I am to have so many good ones.
  • I am glad Steve is home from being away for a few days. I really miss him when he is gone (don't tell him I said that)
  • Emma & I have been enjoying the Real Housewives series. Those ladies are messed up and we cannot get enough of them!
  • Steve and I have been enjoying Weeds and the Big C on Showtime.
  • I wish those two shows were on longer than 30 minutes. It's never long enough.
  • Great writing on both shows. I love, love, love me some Andy on Weeds.
  • Ellie's little friend from next door is back from her summer vacation.
  • She went to China for a month.
  • She brought her back lots of little Chinese presents.
  • There is a nest of yellow jackets under one of our Leeland Cyprus trees.
  • It makes me nervous but it is far enough away from the house and where we are when we are outside. If they wanted to relocate themeselves though, I wouldn't mind.
  • The tall garden phlox in my front garden smells heavenly.
  • Tucker pee'd all over my black-eyed susans that were around the mailbox and killed them all.
  • Black-eyed Susans are were my favorite flower so I am sad.
  • Sterling Jewelers releases their St. Jude stuffed animals at the end of August.
  • Ellie is on their team this year and her artwork will be on all the hang tags.
  • Buy a plush puppy at Jared - the Galleria of Jewelry or Kay Jewelers and support St. Jude
  • We have a lot of fun trips and events planned in the next few months that we are looking forward to.
  • Disney World
  • Adele concert (I am BEYOND excited to have gotten tickets!)
  • ALL of our birthdays are coming up and a few more events after that!
  • One being a possible TODAY show appearance... stay tuned...
  • I am busy with work and designing.
  • Hoping for lots of back to school business.
  • I scored a new account that has BIG potential. (so excited)
  • I have learned this week that I have no tolerance for certain people anymore.
  • Bad questionable behavior, no manners and having a false sense of entitlement when you do nothing to earn it is really... well... just wrong.
  • It feels good to be honest.
  • Our cat Kanye figured out he likes catnip this week.
  • We learned he does not like to share his newfound love of catnip.
  • Life is good and I have not complaints... well except for the weather.
  • This a photo free post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catching Up

Wow...where has the time gone? Summer goes by way too quickly, it always does. Routines are off, days are lazier and my pace slows way down. Sleeping in an extra hour and staying up late at night. Going to the pool and enjoying margaritas and hanging out with the girls; I love it. The girls love it too (except for the margarita part). I wish it wasn't August in a few days.

As I mentioned last time, we headed north to Cape Cod for 9 days on July 8th. The girls and I along with Grandma Marilyn had a long, rainy and slooow drive on Friday to Connecticut. We had many laughs on the near 11 hour drive but I sure was so beyond glad to pull into the hotel parking lot and do a face flop onto my bed. Steve was already there waiting for us to arrive.

It was wonderful to have just a short 3 hour drive the next day onto the Cape. We rented a house in Brewster Mass which is part of the lower Cape. It is such a quaint New England town. Charm oozing from every corner and flower box. (which were everywhere) Hydranges, roses & daisies cascade over white picket fences which surround homes that are weathered and inviting. I fell hard and fast.

The house was very nice with lots of personality - it was open and had great light. There were lots of knick-knacky things here and there but it was done tastefully and above all else, the house was comfortable and spacious for the 5 of us. The bathrooms were on the small side and they seemed to have some plumbing issues. We didn't experience any during our stay but signs on the mirrors made it clear that when you had 'AN EVENT' you should flush midway through. Really? I guess we all followed directions carefully because there were no 'issues'. The sign provided us with laughs and running jokes throughout our stay. Really priceless. There also was an outdoor shower that got lots of use from all our company and from Steve too. The grounds were beautiful. Lots of big hydrangea bushes and bird feeders. You know I love the birds! It was really just perfect. oh...and we were just a 5 minute walk to the beach. Would have been really great to have been ON the beach but around the corner is good too.

Instead of boring you with all the details, I will let some of my favorite photos do the talking. It was a great family trip and I was so happy to have my mom with us. The girls just adore their grandmother. She has come full circle because when I was little she would take us up to the Cape and she has so many fond memories so it was nice to be able to take her this time. So, it was a great trip and it hurt to come back home to reality and to 100 degree weather but we will be back again soon. A little piece of my heart is there.

This is Cape Cod
this is my favorite photo. just beautifully sums up what cape cod is about to me.

my favorite photo of ellie. she just melts my heart.

headed to crosby beach in brewster/orleans

Family Shot

Grandma loving the beach
my mom was so happy to be at the beach. so glad she could come back to the cape again. love the happiness in her eyes.

Ms Ellie
ellie playing in the sand at saints landing beach

The last sunset on the cape
beautiful sunsets over the bay

Me & My mom
my favorite photo of me and my mom
she looks great in this photo

Summertime Fun
random boy chasing seagulls photo but it is such an iconic image - i love it.

enjoying the relaxation part of vacation. the house was a great place to hang out.

Super model Emma
gorgeous emma on the beach

Chatham Beach
enjoying chatham beach. there were dozens of harbor seals behind us on a sand bar

So funny
this is classic. we were in provincetown after the sunset and my mom so wanted to make it to the beach to put her feet in the water. this is one of her favorite places ever so we took a nice photo and then {crash} the waves slammed in. all our faces are priceless and the story about getting to the water is even better.

Oyster Beds
oyster beds at low tide

pinch pinch
caught a crab. pinch pinch

Steve & Emma
steve and emmy. they look so much alike.

house along main street in chatham. love it.

view from the mudflats

some of my bffs came for a night with their kids. lots of laughs...way too many.

Life on the bay
life is good on the bay.

Another pretty sunset
final sunset. cannot wait to return...soon

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

rainy wednesday

It's been raining and thundering all afternoon. Which deserves a big woo hoo because one, we need rain badly and two it is now a pleasant (although rainy) 72 degrees. This morning it was close to 90 and humid. I love thunderstorms so long as I don't have any trees falling on my house and it's not in such a close proximity that I have to unplug my office. Printers, computers, laminators - they all have to be unplugged because no one likes a lightning strike.

They other night Steve was away for work and we had a thunderstorm that was pretty close by. The lights went off and on at least three times and I received a call from my neighbor who was stuck across town and needed their dog brought in. I was in my pjs. It was lightning. It was scary but I ran across the street and rescued their poor dog who did not look like he was having much fun. He was glad to be let into the garage. As I ran back, I saw the girls faces pressed into the living room window yelling to hurry up and then KABOOM! the loudest clap of thunder. Ellie hugged me tight when I sprinted thru the door and Emma told me I really should be wearing a bra. Did I not say I had my pajamas on!! So, I do love a storm but only when I can enjoy it from the comfort of my own home.

So the first week of July is almost over. Nothing too exciting happened. Ellie & Steve have been to the pool and over the weekend we all went out to dinner and to see Super 8. It was PG-13 and I thought Ellie could handle it but sadly no. It was too scary. Thankfully, Steve took her out and they snuck into a showing of Cars and Emma and I enjoyed the rest of our scary movie. We also re-subscribed to the cable premium channels (HBO/Showtime/Starz). Steve and I love to watch Weeds & the Big C which are both Showtime shows and they started up again last week. The deal for 3 months was just $45.00 and all the premium channels came with it. We'll cancel it again in September. As well as enjoying Weeds & The Big C, we are watching movies again. Last night the girls and I watched Jaws. The original 1975 movie. Ellie was scared silly about Super 8 but surprisingly, a large man eating shark attacking unsuspecting beach goers does not seem to bother her. We head to Cape Cod on Friday. Hopefully, they will venture into the water while we are there and I will not regret this movie choice.

July 4th was low key. We enjoyed a lazy day at home instead of going to our neighborhood shindig. It was a beautiful day that ended with a thunderstorm. Ellie and I watched the Macy's fireworks from NYC on TV. That was some display. You know when it translates on TV well that it must have been incredible in person. Ellie started her reading program this week and her tutor comes tomorrow for their first session. Fingers crossed she will have improvements by the end of summer. I know she can do it.

Sadly I have no photos to share. I have been working a lot getting ready to shut the studio down for 10 days. I can share some new halloween tote bags that I just listed. They are super cute and are going to sell well.
Puts me in the mood for Halloween! I ♥ them!

Next time I will have plenty of photos to share. Photos from the beautiful shores and sands of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Until then...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

the last day of June...

Isn't that sad? The first month of summer is over. July starts in a few hours.... It always always just goes way too fast. Thankfully we have lots of fun events to look forward to over the next several weeks of summer but that doesn't help me get over that this is June 30th. I turn 42 in August... how is that possible?? Time just keeps on a ticking.... tick tock tick tock
Ending June with photos of my girls and summer flowers. Begrundingly welcoming in July.

Bubble Girl
one of ellie's favorite summer time activities - bubbles!

Flowers on the patio
container plants on the patio. they make me happy

The face
the face of summer :)

Dog days
pant pant pant

me and Emma
me and emma - photo courtesy of ellie

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shenadoah National Park

Sunday the mister and I took a day for ourselves and headed west to the mountains. Emma was with a girlfriend at home and Ellie got to have some one on one time with grandma. We dropped her off on our way. She was thrilled to pieces about it too. There was partaking in sundaes, shopping, movie watching and hanging out and chatting about life. A perfect day for Grandma and for Ellie. We also had a perfect day.

We went to the Shenandoah National Park which is one of my favorite places in the world. Everytime I am there, I see or experience something new. It's never a disappointment. The weather was gorgeous. A warm 72 degrees and the birds were singing and calling from everywhere.

We decided to take a hike on a trail that was posted as relatively easy. Just 2 miles roundtrip. One mile up to the mountain top and one mile down. Oi vhey, I am so out of shape. The mile up was tough and I was sweating and breathing heavy and Steve would look back and say "are you OK?" which made it worse because it was no big deal to him... but I made it! All the way to the top and I didn't have a heart attack or stop to rest too much.

Up up up
it doesn't look too tough but it was a long way up!

It was worth all the panting and cursing because the feeling of accomplishment when we reached the top was amazing. The views were beautiful and to think that we were just on the road 30 minutes before was super cool. I also realized that I need to invest in some hiking shoes for our next trip. My 2.5 year old Keds that have no traction were not really cutting it. I think a walking stick would help too oh, and maybe a hat...Once I am properly accessorized, I can go back and laugh in the face of that uphill trail.

Skyline Drive
skyline drive from up above. see.. it was a big trail to climb.


Atop Frazier Trail
the view from the top.

we had a chuckle over the bong that we found in the woods.
I don't know if I would enjoy being 'high' this high up with such a looong way to fall down.

After our hike we headed to the lodge for a late lunch. The lodge is located across from a big field and I was keeping my fingers crossed that there would be deer and fawns. I was not disappointed. There is nothing cuter than a baby fawn. The big eyes, the wet nose, the long eye lashes and those precious spots dotting their backs - love them! We spied three fawn that flitted between two moms. How very nurturing and caring each mamma deer was, even if it wasn't her offspring.

precious, just precious.

how could anyone shoot one of us? look how cute I am.

Spring Fawn
fawn in the meadow.

We saw lots of birds at the meadow too. Barn Swallows were zigging and zagging all across the road, American Robins were uncovering earth worms and a Brown Thrasher parent was teaching junior some life lessons. It was great and I could have stayed all day. My partner in crime was very tolerant but there is only so long that he can look at birds so he went off to the car to listen to some talk radio and relax. Again, I could have stayed for another hour just watching and observing and appreciating.

Brown Thrasher family
brown thrasher family
notice the baby hasn't 'matured' into his golden eyes yet

Barn Swallow
finally, one took a break. barn swallows fly for a looong looong time

Barn Swallow Babies
baby barn swallows!

We ended our day hiking down from one of the overlooks to a grouping of rocks. We heard a Barred Owl call and saw several warblers. Three new life birds for me. I was so happy. Sadly, they were too fast for me to photograph as they flew from tree top to tree top in mock speed. AND...Steve was standing too close to the edge for my liking and he was taking the edge off my bird high because I was afraid he was going to fall. Next time we go, I am bringing a tent and a sleeping bag and some hiking shoes and I am staying for a day or two...or three.

Careful there...
see....see how close to the edge he is. made me very nervous!

Taking it in
goodbye shenandoah national park. until next time...