Friday, April 29, 2011


So in love love love with this song. Heartbreaking and goosebump making. What a voice. It will be an Adele summer for me. If you have not heard this song, trust me, you will love it as much as I do. My favorite line is this: Nothing compares, No worries or cares, Regrets and mistakes, they're memories made, Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste? wow!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

spring break and easter

We had a lovely spring break and Easter holiday this year. We started by driving down to Myrtle Beach, SC to visit with Steve's parents on the 16th. The drive normally is 5.5 - 6 hours but that wasn't happening on this day. Traffic on I-95 was horrible in Virginia. We were either crawling along or stopped. The weather was stormy looking and as we drove south, the wind picked up with light rain. Since the traffic never improved much we decided to get off the highway and take a back route. That is when we noticed the black storm clouds rolling in quickly. We turned off the satellite radio and tuned to a local station and heard tornado warnings blaring. The radio is telling us to take cover immediately because a tornado is in our area. We were ahead of the storm because we could see it behind us but crazy weather is unpredictable so I begin scanning for ditches and storm drains just in case. Ellie is crying because she hates storms and the guy on the radio is freaking her out and Tucker is in the back window panting like crazy because his built-in canine storm tracker is going off in his head like a car alarm. I mention to Steve that we could take cover in those storm drains if we had to and Emma pipes up from the back to tell us that she has a new shirt on so she will not be going into some dirty drain pipe. So the mood in the Volvo is a bit tense to say the least that is until the tornado warnings stop bleeping and the radio station goes back to music and it is the middle of the new Kesha song 'This place is about to blow..." Oh my gosh, I burst out laughing. It was so funny. Ellie yells to turn it off but in a few seconds she is laughing right along with all of us. Thankfully we drove out of the bad weather and onto my in-laws. We had no idea about all the devestation and death that series of tornadoes brought to North Carolina. I am so glad we were not sitting on I-95 because on our way home we saw many areas along the highway that tornadoes went over and obliterated.

Our visit with grandma and grandpa was short but sweet and we did get to celebrate grandpa turning 76. He is in great shape and is like the engergizer bunny...keeps going and going. Steve and I got to spend an afternoon together at Brooke Green Gardens which is a beautiful sculpture garden and it also has a wonderful nature walk through old slave villages. The history was interesting and the birds and wildlife along the trails was great. We even spotted a baby alligator. The garden has dozens and dozens of moss draped Cypress trees. These trees are so magical to look at. I just wanted to climb on up and nestle in and watch the world for a while. We finished up with a drive and walk along the beach. Always a lovely vision to see the sand and the surf...I miss it this time of year. The girls had a fun day with their grandparents too. They went to a new place near them called the upside down house. It is more like a educational and fun activity center. We came home and had a great steak dinner and sang happy birthday to grandpa. We headed for home at the beginning of the week because it was back to work for Steve and I but the girls had great weather for the remainder of their spring break.

Easter was a wonderful day. We started with my mom coming over for the weekend. We caught up on the patio while I potted up the first of my container plants. zinnias, red pentas, petunias, snowballs, lantane, ivy geraniums, dianthius and a few others now are beautifying my patio and deck. The humming bird is more than happy to have some flowers to drain instead of just sugar water. Speaking of new visitors to the yard... we have a pigeon that has been with us for over a week now. He is really pretty and has a band on his leg. He sleeps on the porch roof at night. We have never had a pigeon visit before. The girls have named him Homer as they think he is a lost homing pigeon. He certainly looks like a homing pigeon. Wonder where he belongs. Along with Homer, our ducks have returned. They are a mallard couple and they still have no babies. They are here every year at this time for a few weeks. They swim in the creek and nap in the backyard. I also spotted an agile little chipmunk in the backyard yesterday. Dodge had killed two chipmunks last year and I thought for sure they were wiped out. So happy to see this little guy scurrying around. And finally we have babies... 6 Carolina Chickadees and 6 Tufted Titmice have been born. Mazel Tov! What a spring!!

So after our day of planting up pots, the girls, grandma and I colored eggs and made peep s'mores. We then tried to give grandma a heart attack by letting off one of our SC firecrackers near her but she wasn't too spooked. We brought out the sparklers and had fun playing in the darkening night with our glowing wands of fire. Oh...almost forgot... Ellie went to our neighborhood egg hunt earlier in the day and scored a basketful of colorful eggs. I think this may be her last year. She will be 9 next Easter.

Last week Tickle Bellies was featured as a smart deal on Groupon for the Richmond, VA area. We did well and now they would like to feature us in DC and all the other cities in VA. That is great news - so excited to have this exposure.
Here are some photos from our week! Enjoy the gorgeous spring weather!

Feed Us!
baby titmice ready for dinner. they are just 2 days old.

Coming in with dinner
dad brings in some grub (literally)

Leaving on diaper duty
then dad has diaper duty on his way out.

Homing Pigeon
this is homer the lost homing pigeon. sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it?

Ellie and her grandparents
ellie hanging with grandma shirley and grandpa rodney

emmy in her grandparents backyard

Cypress Tree
cypress tree at brooke green gardens, s.c.

Great Blue
great blue heron in the trees at the garden

Yellow Crowned Night Heron
juvenile yellow crowned night heron. i never see these birds. :)

gull at the beach along the shoreline

score! ellie had fun at the egg hunt!

Grandma & the girls
easter weekend with grandma marilyn

Petunias and Lantanna
one of my newly potted containers. purple lantanna and petunias

Rose Breasted Grossbeak
a rose breasted grossbeak at my in-laws feeders. beautiful bird.

S. Carolina Fox Squirrel
a native south carolina fox squirrel. we saw three of these rare guys.

Prothornary Warbler
prothornary warbler. i see them often but have never gotten a good picture

Mr Mockingbird
mockingbird in my in-laws backyard. he kind of runs the place.

Purple Finch
a purple finch stopped by our yard for a snack on its way north

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tickle Bellies on Groupon

Our local feature in the Richmond VA market is running today on Groupon!
Our deal runs for two days... check us out! Woot Woot!
Oh...and go buy a voucher while you're at it...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Happenings

Ellie has a sinus infection. She has been sniffling, coughing and draining for two days now. I know the 'draining' part sounds so gross doesn't it? For some odd reason on the first day of this cold, her eyes were red, crusty and goopy. I thought for sure it was pink eye. But no, turns out it is a sinus infection that just kind of exited through her eyes. She is on antibiotics now so health improvements are around the bend.

I have been working on more new designs for Tickle Bellies. Knocked out a new theme of notepads last night and listed several melamine platter designs. I am so loving the platters. I also have 20 aluminum water bottles ready to head out today that I just got back from production. These bottles are just too frickin' cute. Really jazzed to be offering them. On April 21st (you know the social media site that has 6 millions subscribers - yeah, that one!) will be featuring Tickle Bellies. Unfortunately the feature is not for all 6 million subscribers (can you imagine!) but for the Richmond/Roanoke arm of Groupon. Fingers crossed we will sell some vouchers. This isn't my first go round with marketing via social couponing, I have worked with a great company called Jasmere twice before and the experience was really wonderful. Groupon is waaaaay bigger so we shall see what the response is. I always get nervous and think I am just going to sell one or two. I would be mortified if that happened. In any regard, I am trying to stock up the site nice and pretty in anticipation.

Steve has been up to some manual labor as well. Spring cleaning our screened-in porch. It has been over 5 years that we have had our porch and all the lattice and trim needed to come down and get cleaned and repainted. He is finishing it up this week and so far it looks fabulous. Love when things look pretty. The inside of the porch is next on the agenda. It's truly my favorite room in the spring time...that is once the pollen goes away.

Saturday night we had date night with our friends Debbie and Tom. I so love that Emma can babysit Ellie so we can sneak away for a few hours and recharge. We had a lovely time but came home to a goopy, sniffling Ellie. We are hoping to sneak away to Chincoteague Island in early May for an overnight. That calls for the big guns though and a visit from Grandma to hold the fort down. She is always happy to stay with her girls.

Next week is our Spring Break from school. They always have it coincide with Easter so it is really late this year. I so would love to fly to Sanibel Island in Florida for a few days but it's just not going to happen. However, I think we will definitely enjoy a day trip or two. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is top on the list or perhaps a trip up to the mountains or just maybe I will spend our spring break budget on perennials for the garden. hmmm.... Speaking of the garden and spring- I have to share that both of our nest boxes are being occupied this season. AND... it is our first year with a nesting Titmouse. We usually have a nesting Chickadee family or Bluebirds. This year we have a box full of Carolina Chickadee eggs and one filled with Tufted Titmouse eggs. I also see the Robin busily collecting straw so I am hoping she is nearby with her nest. Cannot wait to see the babies!

OK... time to get back to the grind of working on new products and helping little hands blow their nose and dreaming of being beach bound for spring break.

6 Chickadee Eggs
Aren't these eggs beautiful! She is actively sitting on them now so it won't be too long until I have to get the meal worms out for feedings.

titmouse Eggs
the tufted titmouse nest was harder to see (the box is higher) but there are 6 eggs lining the nest. She too is incubating them. Love springtime babies!

Friday, April 8, 2011

busy girl

I have been in blog neglect the last several days. I have just been I guess. I have been working on a lot of new products for Tickle Bellies and when I get into design mode I have no patience or time to do much of anything else. Then I have to load it all on the site and before I know it 4 days of my life is gone. Last week I had a March Madness sale at Tickle Bellies and it was very successful and I am still getting orders out from that one day.

Also, Steve was in Nashville for a few days so I had many more 'things' to do than normal. I like being busy with life but it's hard to fit it all in. We have gone to field hockey practice, tennis practice, nature walks, trip to DC, cheered on VCU in the basketball tournament, went to a morning showing of 'Born to Be Wild' (super cute), worked on posters for the PTA carnival, watched Bravo and American Idol, watched a movie with Emma, took a trip to the Apple store, took walks with Steve, took care of our neighbor's dog, did homework with Ellie, made cookies, online shopped with Emma, spring cleaned the upstairs, administered daily hormone shots, removed 2 ticks. spotted the first hummingbird of the season and a zillion other things I cannot remember.

I did happen to have my camera on hand so here are some shots from the past few days.

I enjoyed a lovely pedicure

I watched Ellie play tennis.

All of us
Emma dog sat our little neighbor Macy

I enjoyed a new birding spot along the James River in Richmond

It was a very cool area to explore.

We are in the Easter spirit and filled our cookie jar with jellybeans.
No Cadbury Minis this year. They are the death of me.

This little guy watched me in the garden one afternoon from across the creek.

There are now 3 chickadee eggs in the nest box.

took a trip to DC for her new hair which we are so loving
(isn't she just beautiful)

my favorite new plate design for Tickle Bellies

new waterbottle designs at Tickle Bellies

...and new dry erase boards for kids! Lots of great new items!