Saturday, May 28, 2011


Happy start of Summer! Woo Hoo! It has felt like July the last few days with our 90 degree temps. Feels good for now but by July I will have had enough. Hoping we can still have some more 75-80 degree days before then. Pretty please Mother Nature. I really have no place to complain at all because we did have a really great spring and I know many did not.

I am working this holiday weekend because on Monday afternoon Ellie and I will be heading to St. Jude for her 6 month scans. Not the ideal way I wanted to spend our first weekend of summer but I am grateful she survived her cancer and she still can go and have check-ups and to go to a wonderful hospital like St. Jude. Speaking of St. Jude. How wonderful is John Rich? He won Celebrity Apprentice, mentioned St. Jude about a gazillion times on air and then presented the hospital with a 1.3 million dollar check. He is kind of sexy too, for a cowboy. Emma and I watched the entire season and we were so thrilled he won. Emma loves his side kick, rapper, little Jon. I actually like him too. Who knew. I don't find him sexy though. Just clarifying that.

So flying off to St. Jude on Monday, with a Friday afternoon return, means that I have to pretty much clear my work board with orders. I have lots of them too so in between sips of margaritas and bites of hot dogs, I will be working most of the weekend. Our neighborhood pool opens today so Steven will take Ellie for a while. She loves, loves loves the pool. Emma will probably stay home and stare at her new phone all day. Her phone met and early and untimely death. I cannot recall what type of phone it was. A touch screen of some sort but it did not have internet capabilities. So because we have phone insurance, (like any good parent of a teenager should) they replaced it. The company that does this did not have any more similar phones to give her so they sent her a droid phone of some sort. A smart phone. One that has apps and can get her online. Oi Vhey! She is thrilled - but me not so much as my phone bill has increased by $20.00 a month. At least I can sweat $20.00 worth of new chores out of her each month. That's a bonus. So, yeah, she will be lovingly gazing at her phone with a smile spread from ear to ear this weekend. Because, you know, it completes her.

Back to St. Jude. I wish we never had to go back again. I want a doctor to come out and tell us, 'Guess what Ellie, you are cancer free, you will continue to live your life without cancer, you will have no side effects and we never want to see you again.' Wouldn't that be nice. Wishful thinking on my part because I feel like we will never be out from this cloud. For the most part the skies are sunny and we live our lives but when it is scan time, we revert back to nervous balls of energy trying to stay positive but letting in the darkness of recurrence sneak in. I know what we have seen. I know how strong and healthy Ellie is. I know that the presence of God is and was with us every step of the way, like He is with all his children and I know He is in control. Whatever that outcome may be. So this scan is out of my control and we just have to pray for the best news. Ellie's MRI is Tuesday morning so if you are inclined to say a prayer of healing, please do. (pretty please!)

I have been so consumed with work that I haven't taken too many photos but I do have a few. I took a quick walk to the lake after dropping Ellie at school one morning so here are the shots from that. Like I mentioned we have had a beautiful Spring. Great weather, sunny skies, rain at was all good. Here's for the trend to continue into the summer months.

Thanks for your prayers!

Sweet Ellie
Starting off with beautiful Ellie. After everything she has been through and she looks like this. Melts my heart. ♥

Swift Creek Reservoir
A shot of our lake in the morning haze.

Babies at the lake. Guess these are more like teenagers by now but I loved seeing them.

Eastern Painted Turtle
Caught this little guy sunning on a rock. The reflection is wonderful and the peek through the reeds at him is sweet.

Blue bird couple
My neighbor has bluebirds in her mailbox. (Sounds like a disease)
The proud parents take a rest on my mailbox post before heading off to feed the kids.

Flying over
Off goes dad...

Daddy's Home
Love the sign-age at their place.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

garden tour

The Spring weather has been wonderful the last few days. Thought I would share what my gardens look like in mid-May. My back garden is forever a work in progress. I don't know if it will ever get to the place I have imagined in my mind. I need more sun back there and more money too (plants are expensive!!) but it is a peaceful oasis for me and it brings me great happiness - so we (the garden and I) grow together and find what works for us and what doesn't and we keep nurturing and maturing and looking better. There is truly nothing better than a warm summer day relaxing with a drink, watching the birds and butterflies enjoy my little beautiful patch of happy....oh, add in my girls blowing some bubbles on the back porch & I am complete! Oh... and add in Steve sitting by my side and now it's complete... oh and add in ... :)

Front Garden
The little garden in the front. Growing out of control.
Yarrow, Tall Phlox, Sage and Lamb's Ear think they run the place.

Columbine that I cannot remember planting. Anyhoo - It is huge and I love it. It's ready to start reseeding and I need to get those seeds in back for next season.

Mr. Frog
I love this little frog that sits in the front garden. He gets pushed out and covered up by June but I just find him a new spot to stand guard at.

Front Garden
Front Garden

Tucker is always with me in the garden. Always following me around with his ball - just hoping I will give it a toss.

Something new in the garden this spring. I found this colorful owl stepping stone last fall for $5.00 on clearance. I love owls.

Clematis climbing up the light post.

Back Garden
View of the back garden from the driveway.

Cat Mint
Catmint. Love love love it!

Front part of this garden. Lots of reseeded beard tonuge in here. May be too many colors but I like it.

Patio View
A view of the patio. Definitely needs a table or firepit. It's a wonderful place to sit and take in the backyard, birds and garden.

Container of Zinnia (some need to be dead headed yikes)

Pretty Planter
Container planting on the deck.

Welcome! Come on over!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

weekend getaway

The sun is shinning as I type, creeping through my closed office blinds and making my office nice and warm; however, rain is in our forecast all week so I am not too sure how long the sunshine will stay today. We have had a rain deficit in central VA the last few years so rain is a good thing and it is suppose to be out of here by Friday.

This weekend we all drove up to Connecticut to our friends Laurel and Tony's. Laurel, Emma and I had plans to attend the National Stationery Trade Show in NYC on Sunday. I was wishing I had exhibited this year but the cost to have a booth (and do it right) and the economy still not running at 100% worried me. I have been closely monitoring the show attendance over the last few years and all the reports I received from friends that had a booth were less than exciting. Low attendance and people not committing seemed to be the trend. But I was hearing some really positive reports about this year being the turning point so I was feeling torn about not going. So the next best thing to do was to go and walk the show and get inspired and see what new things were coming out.

The show was great. I did see a lot of people walking the show and placing orders. I saw a few new products that caught my eye but what walking the show really did for me was to validate my business. I am so pleased with my products and designs and how wonderful they are. Sometimes when you are the designer, you are your own worst critic, but after seeing what was out there and what Tickle Bellies brings to the marketplace, made me proud. Being with a group of your peers and measuring where you think you fit in can be humbling but I was happy to pat myself on the back with our designs and quality. It was a good feeling.

After the show Laurel, Emma and I went to lunch downtown and then went over to the latest buzz in the city - Dylan's Candy Bar. It's a 3 story candy store. It's the new trendy hot spot for celebs and their kids and I was envisioning Willy Wonka , ompa loompas and fountains of milk chocolate flowing from the ceiling. What a disappointment. Overpriced candy (that you could get at CVS for a fraction of their price), cheap displays and nothing too original. It was getting rather late after that and the rain had started so we took a CRAZY cab ride back to the convention center and headed home. We had lots of laughs and were super silly at one point. It was great to be in the city and the business validation was priceless!

While we were enjoying the big apple, Steve and Ellie were keeping a very busy schedule visiting family and friends. They started early in Massachussetts and ended late in Watertown, Connecticut. They even crashed one surprise birthday party for our friend Eric. They had a great day. Wish I could have been in two places at one time.

On Monday, we were planning on joining Laurel and Tony at the Cape for 2 days but the rain was upgraded to an 80% chance for the rest of the week. We decided to come home and just look forward to our Cape Cod vacation in July...and it better not rain! Are you listening Mother Nature??!! Also, last week Tickle Bellies was featured on Groupon in the Washington DC area and sold 376 vouchers so I am slammed with work this week so it is good to be back home cranking out the orders.

I don't have any photos to share really but here is one of the girls on the way home yesterday sleeping on the same pillow. I love them. :)


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Springtime Collage

I so love springtime...breathe it in! ahhhh....
These are all photos I snapped around the house this week.

springtime collage

Friday, May 6, 2011

What's Happening

Time for a 'what's going on with us' post.
  • Steven put on his handy man pants yesterday and replaced our garbage disposal which was leaking and corroded. It left a nice wet mess on the sink cupboard floor as well so today he is replacing the cabinet floor.
  • Our green tree frog from last year (yes I am assuming it is the same one) is back! And this year he brought some friends. We have spotted several of these emerald beauties around the yard this spring.
  • Homer, the lost homing pigeon, is still our guest. He likes us.
  • Emma's last field hockey game is Saturday.
  • Trying to decide which art summer camps to sign Ellie up for. One will be with a friend and one she will do on her own.
  • We rented a house for a week in Brewster, MA on Cape Cod. A 5 minute walk from the ocean!
  • I planted my first Honey Suckle vine this spring and I have my fingers crossed that it likes where it's planted
  • The hummingbird that was here for 2 weeks has continued on northward and no one has come to replace him yet. makes me sad.
  • I am so not liking Sonya's attitude this season on the Real Housewives of NYC.
  • Speaking of the housewives, Betheny Frankel has some serious issues too that I hope she can deal with. Lots of crying jags this season.
  • Steven finally bought his dream TV. It replaces our old huge floor one. We also bought a nice piece of furniture to put it on. It's a win win for everyone.
  • I have been listening to Adele all week. She is my current fav and I wish her DC concert wasn't sold out and that the tickets on Ebay didn't cost $300.00
  • My thumb nail that I shattered last October in the car door still looks gross. It will never look right and I will be disfigured forever.
  • I sold a lot of my new melamine platters for Mother's Day
  • My Groupon feature went well so they are featuring Tickle Bellies again in DC on 5.10 and Hampton Roads (va) on 5.17
  • I want to go to Chincoteauge Island in the next 2 weeks.
  • I also want to go up to the mountains.
  • I am loving all the new life that is around us this spring
  • I can sit on my screened in porch on a warm day for hours and the smile never leaves my face.
  • I donated to an online fund drive so a couple could adopt a downs syndrome boy from Europe and I won one of the prizes. Wasn't expecting that but it was nice.
  • The prize was a knitted tea cozy that is really cute.
  • I arranged 3 vases of flowers in Ellie's class this week. It was teacher appreciation week and all the kids brought in flowers. One little boy must have forgotten and picked some flowers from outside... it made me sad and happy.
  • Cannot believe Emma is almost in high school.
  • The scrolling message at the bottom of Celebrity Apprentice that the president had something to say at 10:30 on a Sunday night and that it involved National Security totally made me nervous. I was beginning to think the Mayans were right.
  • I got to have lunch with a girlfriend yesterday that I don't see too often even though she lives down the street
  • Heading to my mom's place for Mother's Day
  • This is the first Mother's Day in 4 years that I will be at home
  • 2007- I was stuck in an airport in Dallas coming back from Vegas with friends - no flights (bad weather) meant we had to spend the night. In 2008 we were with Ellie at MCV Hospital in Richmond. She just had endured 2 brain surgeries. In 2009 we were in LeBonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis and she had just had her 'miracle' brain surgery to remove a tumor that wasn't there and in 2010 Ellie and I were at St. Jude for routine check-ups. It will be good to not be in an airport or hospital setting this year.
  • According to some religious heretic guy the Rapture begins on May 21st. Better make sure you're on good terms with the big man, just sayin'
  • I watched Black Swan and I didn't like it
  • Ellie and I watched Rio and I did like it
  • I sometimes wish I could read blogs all day long. They make me happy
  • Michelle Obama looked gorgeous at the Press Corp dinner last week
  • The roasting of Donald Trump at the aforementioned Press Corp dinner was super funny and well deserved.
  • I am working this morning, then reporting to Ellie's school to watch her class for an hour or so while the teachers are treated to a special lunch, then photographing a new Tree Swallow nest I found last night and then going to the flower nursery for some container plants.
  • Life is good!

Monday, May 2, 2011

May Day!

Took a mid-morning walk to the lake Sunday. It was peaceful and full of life. The air smelled sweet and the sun was warm. The promise of hope and love drifting on the breeze. Happy May Day!

Bald Eagle
i was so thrilled to see the bald eagle way across the lake up in this tree. a patriotic symbol of the news to come later that day perhaps.

Baby Wood Ducks
wood duck babies!! I saw this scene 4 years ago and so glad to see it again. nothing beats wood duck babies. :)

this little guy was floating around on a leaf.

i watched two catbirds forage around on the ground for about 5 minutes. they were noisy and didn't care who knew it.

Toad in A Hole
this toad was deep in a hole. blended right in with the dirt