Photo Essay: Something to Make You Smile

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Photography | 29 comments

 

 Sending out a little “Instahappy” from my Instagram account.

 

bouncy house basketball

Cousins playing bouncy house basketball

 

summer rain macro

Summer raindrops

 

family love donuts

Donuts! 

By the way, my hub’s t-shirt says, I know the muffin man. You know, the one who lives on Drury Lane?

 

 

Farmer's market tomatoes

 Farmer’s Market tomatoes (for after donut cleansing)

 

yellow wooly caterpillar

Something cuddly.

Actually, I don’t know what kind of caterpillar this is, so I probably wouldn’t suggest getting too close. 

 

blue heron james river

Blue heron waiting patiently for dinner at the James River.

I was surprised at how close she (he?) let me get.

Guess I’ve got street cred now.

 

duck dive

Duck snack rush at Byrd Park. 

Getting eats in the animal world sure doesn’t look as easy as walking up to the donut truck.

 

drawing colored pencils

Drawing time.

I’d totally get excited over a colored pencil/Sharpie truck!

 

world earth love doodle

 Sending love and hugs.

 

What makes you smile? And is it something that can be sold in a truck?

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

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The Strength that Lies Beneath

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Life | 32 comments

At some point during the car trips of my childhood, my sister (the one who’s closest to me in age), would invariably stop to point out the creepiest, oldest, abandoned house on the side of the road and say,

 

There’s your dream house.

old abandoned barn
I’d wrinkle my nose. We’d laugh. Then resume singing, You’re a Grand Old Flag or the oh so monotonous, Five Hundred Miles, until inevitably I’d poke her in the ribs and say,

Look! It’s your future home.

old barn abandoned

It was a funny dig. A kinda two steps forward, two steps back exchange. The sisterly cha cha that we danced many times over the years we lived together.

Today, I still look for those houses. Still smile.

Sometimes I think it’s strange to smile at something so dilapidated.

So abandoned.

This week, after hearing how Robin Williams died, I found myself flipping through old journals, looking for the poem I wrote when I was 18. The one where I tried to understand why my sister had attempted suicide (the first time).

It’s an angry poem.

Why did you try to steal the time when we were little?

Now I’m almost embarrassed at my anger. Did I have any compassion? I hug you anyway.

I’m nervous talking/blogging about this subject. I feel it’s not my story to tell. My sister and I haven’t talked about this. Not now, not ever, that I remember. We (as a family) just didn’t. Even though all of us struggled with our own darkness.

On the other hand, I’ve made it a point to talk about depression and suicide with my children. I’ve even probably gone a bit overboard at times, carting my thirteen year old daughter off to a therapist when she dramatically screamed, I hate you, I want to die.

Hey she was my first teenager…and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Depression can be dangerous. It’s dark, often hidden. Oh and how it thrives in those secluded corners.

Depression I understand. That’s part of my story too. But it’s hard to talk about.

It’s a disease. There shouldn’t be shame attached to something that happens with our brain chemistry. Hey, did anyone shun me when I blew up the sulfur in chem lab my junior year? No, it was a mistake. Even the intimidating Sister Dolores didn’t yell at me.

It sucks to feel your lightness abandoning you. And it feels even worse when you think that because it’s in your thoughts, you ought to be responsible for pushing that darkness out.

Ask for help.

My sister and I may have joked about those dilapidated, abandoned houses. But maybe now I smile because I see them as hope. There’s a strength that lies beneath.

And they’re still standing.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

xo

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Climb Every Mountain with Courage (and Cookies)

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Life | 31 comments

true life dreams

 

Three years ago today I crossed the bridge from blog reader to blogger.

 

covered bridge between Vermont and New Hampshire

Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, Vermont (and New Hampshire)

 

I was scared, but I had a plan when I published my first post, There’s No Place Like the Prairie.

I wanted to create my author-ly space here on the internet (aka author platform),

A place to hang my quirky creative brand hat

not that I could define it at the time

baby bonnet

Mini me wearing one of my first quirky hats 

 

Oh and I didn’t have expectations

or, if I did, I didn’t know what publishing my thoughts, my books, my photos (hey an audience that doesn’t require a family room and a slide projector!) would actually feel like.

Some of my 1,095 Hey I’m a writer! days were pretty awesome

garden stowe vermont

Flower garden at Trapp Family Lodge (the family that inspired The Sound of Music!!)

Stowe, Vermont 

Trapp lodge flower garden

Others, kinda droopy. Seriously.

 

I like how Kate over at 4amwriter summed up the droop-tastic feeling:

“The bottom line, I discovered recently, was that I never told myself what I would do when I got rejections. I knew I’d get them. What I didn’t know is that they’d lay me out flat. And because I didn’t set myself a specific battle plan, it was easy to turn tail and run.” ~4amwriter

 

Enter courage (well, after some tears, some dessert, and a perusal of the classifieds).

Stowe Sound of Music

The Trapp Family lodge in Stowe, Vermont makes an impressive first impression.

 

Okay, so courage doesn’t always make a dramatic entrance. Some days courage is one word, one tiny doodle, one smile.

And some days it’s just not quitting.

The creative life needs courage.

Our heads are not just in the clouds, we’re weaving fluffy, silver lined couture garments.

Right?

Yeah. Vulnerability is NOT EASY.

In fact, the image from my blog that has been pinned the most is this one:

pinterest courage quote

 

Oh and my mom’s cream cheese cookie recipe is not trailing far behind.

Some of you may have guessed barns.

New England barns

Barn nestled on mountain overlooking the village of Stowe.

By the way, thanks to Clay Watkins for tweeting me about his own barn finds!

 

But I’ll take courage and cookies (and supportive friends like YOU).

They’re great companions for climbing mountains.

 

Stowe Vermont mountains

Even if you can’t quite make out the mountain. Yet.

 

Climb every mountain, 
Ford every stream, 
Follow every rainbow, 
‘Till you find your dream.

~Rodgers & Hammerstein, The Sound of Music

 

How are you mustering courage, or climbing mountains? Or just tell me your thoughts on cookies. I’d love to know.

Happy Weekend!

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Photo Essay: Vermont Farm and City Life (and Tall Stuff)

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Travel | 36 comments

Vermont cow

Got milk?

Ariella (a six year old Brown Swiss cow at Shelburne Farms in Vermont) does…

…about eight gallons a day.

vermont sheep

This is a sheep, but she was a total ham. #smile

vermont goat

Oh that moment, right before you leap.

Chickens Vermont

At Shelburne Farms they let you lead the chickens back to the coop.

I could use some corralling when it comes to hanging out on the Internet.

Vermont chicken

Someone takes their job seriously. This chicken probably never procrastinates.

Chicken coop Vermont

Back stage after the show. 

Americana Vermont

On the road again. So many barns…

Burlington Vermont people

But this was something new! 

According to a friend on Instagram, this is a lamplighter bicycle.

How do you stop without falling??

Tallest filing cabinet Vermont

Burlington, VT also has the world’s tallest filing cabinet.

Takes organization to new heights.

lake Champlain earth clock

Tall rocks make up Burlington’s Earth Clock

Lake Champlain Burlington Vermont

We saw beautiful views of Lake Champlain (and the Adirondack mountains in the distance).

We did not see Champ, the lake’s resident monster. 

Oh well, maybe next time.

 

Have you seen (or been on) a lamplighter bicycle? What interesting roadside attractions have you found? 

Next time: The hills are alive in Stowe, Vermont!

Happy Wednesday!

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Photo Essay: Summer Road Trip Fun (New York)

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Travel | 39 comments

Coleen Patrick road trip

My road trip smile.

Statue of Liberty setting sun

First stop: Staten Island, NY to visit dear daughter. This is the view of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry.

Frugal road trippers take note: the Staten Island ferry is FREE!

 

brooklyn bridge

We dodged lots of tourists and bicycles walked the Brooklyn Bridge with our daughter.

road trip NY

After a night as guests in our child’s teeny tiny but oh so cute studio apartment, my hub and I headed north. 

hudson valley new york

 If my phone’s camera could roll its eyes (lens?) it would’ve after the many shots I took of barns and silos.

copake falls new york

 Copake Falls, New York.

This is where the northernmost section of Taconic State Park is located.

NY MA border Bash Bish Falls park

 You have to walk to Massachusetts to get to Bash Bish Falls.

Note to frugal walkers: this is 3/4 mile from the New York (Taconic state park) lot. 

dragonfly bash bish falls

 Lots of dragonflies at the falls. Always nice to make new friends.

Bash Bish Falls above

There’s also lots of stairs. :)

Bash Bish Falls–the highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts.

Bash Bish Falls MA

 Bash Bish–try to say that three times fast.

Bash Bish Falls

ladybug Bash Bish falls

Another new hiking pal.

Vermont barn

Stayed tuned: Next up, more barns Vermont!! 

Happy Friday!

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Summer at a Snail’s Pace

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Life | 37 comments

Snails Crabtree Falls

Meet my new guru!

 

 Virginia waterfall hikes

We met last weekend at Crabtree Falls in George Washington National Forest.

 

Just in time, because tomorrow marks the summer solstice here in the Northern hemisphere.

For me, June has always meant it’s time to slow down a bit. Maybe because the majority of my years have been defined by school and summer break. I realized today, that there’s only been a handful of summers that were not sandwiched between school years (either for me or my kids).

Anyway, it’s summer, and I’m back in snail mode.

snail cllose up photo macro

 

Snail mode is not really a physical pace (although it can be). Here it’s more of a mind-set.

 

brain out to lunch tweet

 

I’m going to be less concerned with the overwhelming, the never-ending measuring stick, and more in tune with

family

nature

road trips

reading

summer book crush Collage

The Art of Chasing Normal and dozens of great reads are only .99 this weekend! Just click on the image to get to the Summer Book Crush site. 

 

snail reading doodle

doodling

joy

intuition

Oh and forget perfectionism. I’ve got more important passengers.

watermelon passenger

So yummy pretty.

 

And I’m taking a deep breath of gratitude for where I am right now.

snail macro photo

What does summer (or the change of seasons) mean to you?

Happy Weekend!

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Photo Essay: The Time Machine on My Front Porch

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Life | 43 comments

love who you are owl drawing

kindergarten and first grade G

 first day school photography

first day of school photography ideas

 

photography ideas first day of school

first day of school photography idea

school photography ideas

first day school photography ideas

K through senior photography ideas

 

For more proof of my porch time machine, check out my daughter in last year’s post: The Quickening: From Baby to High School Graduate in Sixty Seconds.

happy graduation

Now I’ve got two happy graduates. :)

What’s your best advice for graduates?

Happy Monday!

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Just A Little More Time Please

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Life | 37 comments

For the last few months I’ve been working on a project that I really want to finish.

I’m frustrated with myself, because I was supposed to be done in March.

i love to draw

Back to the drawing board.

Oh, I’ve got a bunch of excuses reasons why I’m not done. For one, this project is pushing at the limits of my technological skills.

I took a Photoshop class this spring, but I still have some boundary stretching to do in the tech department.

 

photoshop learning fun

A Grand Illusion

I’d say, don’t try this at home, but you can if you’ve got Photoshop!

Anyway, I’m not done. But all around me things are finishing.

Today was my baby’s son’s last day of high school. It was also my last official day as a parent volunteer at his school.

high school mascot dragon

I sold school t-shirts, but they never made me wear the dragon costume. :)

Two days ago I made the 4,449th cheese sandwich (approximately) to go in my kid’s lunch box.

For the last time.

Because a Lunch Box Provided By Your Mom is not one of the choices for his college meal plan (I checked).

For the last nine months, there’s been his last cross country meet, last all district (and this year all state) chorus concerts, last music awards picnic, last piano lesson and recital, last prom, and lots of senior events that continue the You’re Finished theme.

But I’m not finished.

Not yet.

I just need a little more time.

 

Are you checking stuff off your To Do List? Tell me, I’d love some inspiration. Or a hug. Or a donut. And speaking of donuts…

donuts in richmond VA

Happy National Donut Day!!

xo

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A Road Trip: Thirty-Four Sweet Hours

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Travel | 48 comments

inspirational virgil quote

This weekend we took a quick road trip to Washington D.C.

Somehow we packed three or fours days worth of touring into 34 hours.

DC road trip

We practically had monuments coming out of our ears.

We left home at 9 am on Sunday morning, drove about 100 miles, and then stopped for brunch at The Diner in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood.

If you’re gluten-free, I highly recommend the pancakes. YUM.

My guys want you to try the tater tots.

brunch Adams morgan

Tater tots are good for your taste buds.

After pancakes, bread pudding french toast, and a veggie Reuben, we walked to the National Zoo.

Note: The ape house is NOT good for your nose.

gorilla yard national zoo

After mouth breathing my way through the ape house, I’d opt for a day outside too.

We walked A LOT. In 34 hours, I clocked 47,000 steps on my pedometer.

That’s about 20 miles.

tortoise D.C. zoo

I’m moving a little slower today.

Luckily there was plenty of sustenance.

Top Chef Mike Isabella Graffiato

Top Chef alum Mike Isabella’s Graffiato is a fun food adventure.

And that night we had a relaxing moonlight trolley ride around D.C.

Old Town Trolley tours washington d.c.

This was a fitting way to spend Memorial Day weekend.

Memorials in D.C.

The next morning we walked to the National Mall and toured the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

American History car dealership

My son will be waiting a long time to get a car loan at this dealership.

But waiting is not so bad.

D.C. cupcakes

We waited in this line at Georgetown Cupcakes (yes, we also toured Georgetown!)

Easy wait when this is at the end of the line:

D.C. cupcakes gluten free

Especially because the chocolate lava cupcakes were gluten-free.

Then, home again, home again, jiggety jig.

But not before we picked up a souvenir.

D.C. souvenir

How did you spend your weekend? Do you have a favorite tourist spot?

Happy Tuesday!

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Strength: It’s In There

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Inspiration | 47 comments

strength and sprit

finish strong

finish strong

strength of spirit

jump into ocean spirit

spirit determination run

Strength. It’s in there.

 

Family. Friends. The pretty cool inspiration in the world around me. Coffee. :) These are just a few of the things that keep me going strong.

How do you tap into your inner strength? 

 Happy Monday!

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