Saturday, April 28, 2012

All On A Friday

These photos were all taken within the space of a couple of hours on Friday afternoon....

I took this while I was waiting at a stoplight.  Pure happiness.  

Back at home I peeked out the window to see a gorgeous woodpecker with a bright red head looking for a snack!  (apologies for the bad photo quality ~ long distance shot)

On my way to pick up Sophie from school, I took these few photos while waiting at a stoplight.

These flowers were so lovely and delicate.

I was alone so there was no one there to stop me from taking "just one more shot"!

As we were leaving Sophie's school, we noticed Mama Duck finally had her babies.  From what it looks like, she has a BIG brood.  There were at least 10 ducklings. Again, sorry for the poor photo quality...took this over a LONG distance and my camera is not that great!

When you blog and constantly have your camera at the ready, you notice things you might otherwise pass right by.  I am thankful to have noticed all of these beautiful things surrounding me on a lovely Friday afternoon...

Thursday, April 26, 2012


It's that time of year again. I thought I'd keep with the new tradition I started last year of listing things about myself using my new age/number. It seriously feels like only yesterday that I wrote last year's list. So here we go.....39.....

1. When I open a bottle of wine and find a plastic cork, I feel cheated.

2. My favorite movie of 2011 was The Muppets.

3. Midnight in Paris was a very close second.

4. My favorite movie so far for 2012?  Salmon Fishing in Yemen.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this  movie! And could Ewan McGregor be any more delicious?

5. I just read Heaven Is Here, Stephanie Nielson's story about surviving a plane crash and living with burns on 80% of her body.  It's really amazing and I would recommend the book to anyone.  Still, it made me sad.  She's LDS and has a HUGE family.....they all helped to take care of her and her four children while she was recovering.  It made me feel like I wouldn't have a support system if something that awful ever happened to me.  My family is small and lives far away.  While reading the book, I also constantly questioned if I could/would be that strong in such an awful scenario.  I guess you never know until you're faced with something like that.  But I continue to wonder....  Stephanie, you are a true inspiration.

6. Since Clara was born, I've been somewhat obsessed with the color yellow.  I look at my yellow pinboard all the time.  It makes me happy.

7. I've always been obsessed with the 1920's.  Clara Louise's name was inspired by my two favorite flappers: Clara Bow & Louise Brooks.

8. My sweet dog Hubbell was named after Robert Redford's character in The Way We Were.  Most people think he's named after the telescope!  Really?  Those folks obviously don't know me well.  Where is the romance in naming your dog after a telescope?

9. The #1 item on my Life Bucket List is to go on safari in Africa.  I can't even imagine how it must feel to see a wild elephant or giraffe or lion pass by.....makes me breathless just thinking about it.

10. Since we've been on house arrest for the last eight months, due to baby Clara's reflux, I have a severe case of wanderlust.  I spend way too much time dreaming of trips I'd like to take.

11. That safari would be first on my list of trips.  Iceland would be #2. But the list is super long.

12. I have super-thick curly hair but I like my hair best when my hairdresser straightens it.

13. Music is my sanctuary.

14. I used to know Dave Matthews in college.  A couple of years before he became famous.

15. I've been with Alain for just over 18 years now.  Next year at this time I will have been with him over half of my life.

16. The best dinner I've ever had in my life was at Per Se. Thomas Keller is genius. A true artist.

17. I've now been vegetarian for about 14 years.  I have no desire to ever eat meat again. If only one thing defined me, it would probably be this.

18.  I always secretly wanted three children.  Clara's infancy has been so difficult that we've decided to stop at two children.  I think this is ABSOLUTELY the right thing to do but it also makes me sad sometimes. I'd love to have a bigger family.

19. For the record: If I'd ever had a third child, I would have wanted a girl.

20. Kenzie and I used to know each other in another life.  I may not know much but this is one thing I know for sure.

21. When I was young, I was the biggest tomboy ever.  I love that about myself.

22.  My favorite thing when I was little was playing in the creek and making forts in the woods.  I had a lot of freedom. It makes me sad that my girls won't get to experience that.

23. I've been a voracious reader my whole life.  When I was a child, I'd read the sides of cereal boxes at breakfast if I had no books on hand.

24. For the past year I've been thinking that Sophie would make an amazing illustrator for children's books.  I've never mentioned that to anyone.  Two nights ago, Sophie mentioned to me that she'd like to "draw pictures for books" when she grows up.  Isn't that wild?  Made me smile so hard it hurt.

25. After a rain, when I see earthworms struggling and drying out on the pavement, I pick them up and take them back to the dirt/grass.  Gandhi would be proud.

26. This might sound silly but, as I get older, I realize more and more that my life can be whatever I want it to be.  I am in control.  The ultimate designer. It feels good.

27. I always thought I'd age gracefully....and that wrinkles and grey hair wouldn't bother me so much.  I was DEAD WRONG.

28. I am working REALLY HARD to embrace those wrinkles.  They indicate where smiles have been.  And laughter.  I earned them all.  They give me character.  I tell myself these things repeatedly.

29. Not so with the grey hairs.  I say "F*CK these grey hairs!" and color over them every six weeks or so.

30. I adore the rain. When I was younger (I won't say how much!), I used to run naked in the rain from time to time.  It was one of my most favorite things EVER, so freeing, so natural.  You should ask Alain about this ~ he has a good story.

31. Pink Peonies and Red Poppies are my favorite flowers.

32. I was named after Linda Evans' character on Big Valley.  Her character was actually named Audra.  Thank GOD Mom tweaked it to Audrey.  Still, it's nice to know I'm named after such a beautiful person.

33. #32 led to one of my favorite nicknames --> BIG VALLEY.

34.There are days when I miss work so much I can almost taste it.  On other days, the very thought of working makes me sick to my stomach.

35.In very clear, rational moments, I realize the only reason I miss work is because I miss all of the travel to Manhattan.

36. I saw a therapist years ago when I was being treated for Postpartum Depression.  I adored her and she helped me SO MUCH.  During a session, she once told me I was the most free-spirited person she'd ever met.  To this day, I still consider that the biggest compliment I've ever received.

37. I miss snow. This winter was a total bust.

38. Bees are a recurring theme in my life. I went to a nursery school called Busy Bee Child Development Center. My high school mascot was a bee. While doing graduate studies in Animal Behavior, I did my research on bees. And now, as a gardener, I am always very much in tune with the honey bees in my garden.

39. On this birthday, as with every birthday, I raise up a toast in memory of my dear friend and fellow free spirit, Brian Paul Mercado. Thanks to knowing him and in part because of losing him at a young age, I appreciate EVERY birthday and understand how lucky I am to live each day. Bri, you are still loved and missed, every single day!!! Cheers....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Still Thinking About....

....the lovely surprise birthday dinner that my two friends threw for me last Saturday night.  I thought I was going out to dinner alone with Alain.  The destination was to be a surprise and Alain only told me to dress "classy and sexy".  Hmmmm.  Not so much.  But I dressed up a little more than my norm.  The babysitter arrived and we hopped in the car.  Alain asked me to put on a blindfold.  What the what?  Ok.  He then proceeded to drive me around in circles all within about five miles of our house.  I have an amazing sense of direction and, because I was concentrating, I could tell where we were and where we were going.  We pulled up to Nathalie's house and I was so happy.  I knew Elizabeth would also be waiting inside.  The idea of spending an evening with my dear friends made me really excited and happy.  (I know Alain and I will make plans soon to actually go out alone!)  These two ladies, otherwise known as Donna (Hay) and Martha (Stewart), made plans to stay in and have a nice dinner at home.  They ordered Indian food, my favorite.  Elizabeth made a gorgeous cake. Nat prepared the loveliest tabletop I've seen.  We dined al fresco.  It was perfect.  I felt so lucky.  Everything was so, so, so, so nice.....I can't stop thinking about it.  Ladies, thank you from the bottom of my deep and overflowing heart!!! 

Elizabeth's Darling Cake

With this vase behind the cake, it looked styled....I had to take a second photo!

Elizabeth knows I love owls so she added some to the cake.  Aren't they adorable?

This edible paper was to-die-for cute.  E, you are so talented!  And just look at that border!

The AMAZING tabletop.  Love those candles in the egg cartons. Nat has the best taste!

I love mason jars so had to take a photo of these hanging candles.  Lovely touch!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Clara, at 8 Months

Little Wheezy is growing up so fast, isn't she?  I can't believe she's almost 9 months old already.  For both Alain and myself, this is the funnest and most interesting baby stage. We love being around Clara. She couldn't be any cuter and everything she does is so interesting!!!

Likes: Yum Yummy baby cookies (especially the apple & ginger ones), the new push wagon (thank you SO much, Elizabeth!), the Snack Trap with Puffs inside, nightly foot massage, singing, waving, clapping, making sounds with "B", watching the birds fly around the kitchen, our daily garden walk, watching birds flying in the sky, being tickled, going on neighborhood walks in the big wagon with Big Sissy, walking around the house with her push toys, dogs (she always makes little excited sounds when she sees a dog), singing and dancing in music class, the bath.

Dislikes: Having diapers changed and getting dressed, sitting in the high chair, when Mom leaves the room, any extended car rides (longer than about 15 minutes!), when Sophie holds her too long or too tightly (she squeals and screams until Soph puts her down), peas.

Recent Milestones: Waving, clapping, standing without holding on to anything, attempting to climb the stairs, eating so many new things, telling me (in her own way) when she wants something or when she's excited.

Words I'd Use to Describe Clara: Interesting, fun, determined, independent, smart, silly, smiley, happy, serious, curious, free-spirited, a horrible sleeper (although slowly getting better!), adventurous eater, SO adorable, lovable.  

We love you to the moon and back (a billion and one times), Clara!  You are true sunshine!

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again

I find it hard to believe it's been an entire year.*  Whew.  
Yes here it is.  Time to pack up the kids and head over to the local farm. 

Yep, it's time for STRAWBERRIES!!!

I thought I'd have to Ergo Clara the entire time.  When we arrived and saw these new wagons, I was so happy.  Clara has a blast riding in there.  Sophie rode along a good bit too.

Clara's smile says it all.....she really enjoyed her first ever strawberry picking excursion!

The strawberries were abundant.

I had a hard time keeping Clara from reaching over the side of the wagon and helping herself.  This is not an organic farm (unfortunately) so I had to be careful that she didn't get a mouthful of pesticides!

Sophie was super quiet and serious about her strawberry picking.

Pretty strawberry blooms.

The strawberry plants seem to go on forever....

Clara was ENTHRALLED with the chickens.  She stood up the entire time and "spoke" to them.  I have no idea what they were discussing but the hens made a good audience.

Sophie, with her usual jealousy issues, threw Clara's pacifier into the chicken coop.  This isn't a great picture but I had to post it. The chickens went wild and pecked that thing a million times.  They were so happy with their new blue plastic toy!!! 

Sophie, in action.  Thanks to her careful picking, we enjoyed some very yummy strawberry desserts this evening.

I tend to not buy berries out of season so the beginning of the local strawberry season is SO EXCITING for me.  We already have plans to go back next week with some friends!

* When I looked at last year's post, I felt teary.  In one short year, Sophie has already changed so much.  She still had a baby face last Spring.  She doesn't baby girl is getting so, so, so big!

Just because....

Clara and I had to drive down to South Carolina yesterday to sign Sophie up for some summer camps.  On the way there, Clara fell asleep.  Enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet, I went for a little drive around the area.  It's much more rural and there are some peaceful landscapes....this one was just too good and serene not to share....

Let's Talk About Turkey (or Black) Vultures

Even though I've learned that turkey vultures are quite widespread and common in the Americas, I'd never seen them until I moved to Charlotte.  Typically I don't see them unless I'm across the border in South Carolina (which is bizarre ~ I have no idea why this would be!).  You often see a bunch of them all hanging out on cell phone towers.  It's also quite common to catch them on the side of the road feeding on roadkill.  I'm quite fascinated by them and thankful for them (they clean up roadkill much faster than any local authorities!).  For so long, I've been trying to get some pictures of them and I finally succeeded yesterday....  

These birds rarely kill their own prey but feed on carrion and roadkill which they locate by sense of smell. Fascinating.

Note: After doing some Google searches on Turkey Vultures, I'm thinking the ones I see and took these photos of are actually Black Vultures. Still, they're very similar animals and all of the above would apply to Black Vultures as well.

She's My Kind of Rain (Bow)

Sophie loves to play outside in the rain.
She's also pretty obsessed with rainbows. 

As she was playing in the rain yesterday, I took these shots of her out the window.  

These photos perfectly encapsulate the things I love about her at this age/stage....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Washed Ashore

I've often hinted on my blog about how much time I spend thinking about plastic.  There are so many things I DO NOT LIKE about plastic.  From a purely practical standpoint, I despise how the plastic kitchenware is never dry when my dishwasher finishes its cycle and I don't like how the #6 plastics aren't recyclable in our area.  Then there are the much bigger issues ~ so many of them ~ too many to get into here (or maybe I'm just too tired).  Anyway, I was thrilled recently when I heard about the Washed Ashore Project.  This group collects plastics and other trash found on Oregon beaches.  After washing and sorting these items, they create large sculptures of sea creatures....the very animals who suffer the most because of all the plastics floating around in our oceans. While reading about Washed Ashore, I learned that every square mile of ocean contains about 46,000 pieces of floating plastics. In some places the small plastic pieces outweigh plankton 6 to 1.  When I think of my beloved whales swallowing a bunch of plastic pieces, well, I find it hard to swallow myself. I am so thankful for groups such as Washed Ashore who come up with creative ways to make people aware of these issues and to educate our younger generations.  It's truly inspirational. Sophie actually watched the documentary with me.  As a child obsessed with all artistic endeavors, she was fascinated.  She followed it up by asking me a bunch of questions.  Even if she's the only child affected, I'd still say JOB WELL DONE to Washed Ashore.  I'm so glad you're out there and I hope we're able to visit your exhibit in person one day!  

The Water Bottle Jellyfish and Tula the Sea Turtle, photo via Washed Ashore

Monday, April 16, 2012

Just A Girl and Her Dogs

Clara enjoys some playtime with Hubbell & Kenzie

Sophie & Hubbell ~ she adores him.

Kenzie, Sophie & Hubbell

Me & My Pups

I adore my Kenzie Snooter!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Please feel free to play with your food....

We do. 

Don't ask what inspired me to do this.  I have no idea.  But it was so fun and Sophie laughed and giggled the entire time.  That leek in the first and last photos reminds me of my favorite Muppet, Pepe the King Prawn.

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